OKC Thunder: Free agent Nerlens Noel heading to the Mecca

Nerlens Noel of the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Nerlens Noel of the OKC Thunder. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The reconstruction of the OKC Thunder roster continues as free agent Nerlens Noel agrees to a deal with the New York Knicks.

On the second day of the NBA Free Agency moratorium, the OKC Thunder witnessed more members of the 2019-20 roster depart for new squads. On Saturday, Nerlens Noel elected to sign a one-year team with the New York Knicks.

That represents three core frontcourt contributors from last season. Free-agent, Danilo Gallinari agreed to join the Hawks on a three-year $61.5M deal. The next move pulled at fans’ heartstrings as it was confirmed Steven Adams was no longer a member of the OKC Thunder.

The big man was included in the four-team trade centering on Jrue Holiday heading to Milwaukee. As part of that deal, the Big Kiwi is headed to New Orleans in what potentially is the most perfect alignment of player and local gastronomical delights ever.

Nerlens Noel exits OKC Thunder to join Knicks

To close the day Thunder fans learned Nerlens Noel is also leaving as he heads to the Mecca to join the New York Knicks.  The deal is said to be a one-year term for $5 million.

The week has presented lots of activity for executive vice president and general manager, Sam Presti who has barely come up for air. On Monday, as the trade restrictions were lifted he brokered a deal to send Dennis Schroder to the Lakers and followed that up by sending Chris Paul and Abdel Nader to the Suns.

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Wednesday brought about the NBA Draft and more trades. By this point, Presti was cycling in players retained in the initial trades and redistributing them before their bags were unpacked. Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson were sent to Philly. Kelly Oubre was detoured to Golden State and James Johnson to Dallas.

Noel played for the Thunder the past two seasons fulfilling the backup center role and redefined his image after a rough stretch with the Mavericks.

The Kentucky alum became a stable part of the core while with the Thunder and though he never emerged as a starter he provided the perfect yang to Steven Adams’ yin.

For the first time this week, exiting members of the OKC Thunder core (Gallinari and Noel) aren’t bringing back anything in return. That’s understandable given both men are free agents although many wondered if Gallo would elect to join a contending team via a sign and trade.

After the hotdog incident in Dallas and infamously turning down a four-year $70 million contract, Noel rebounded in OKC as one of the leaders and will serve as a strong mentor to the youngsters in New York.

The T.I. team wishing the big man well with his new squad and thank him for the memories he created while a member of the Thunder.

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