Free agency kicked off promptly Monday night at 6 PM EST. For the New York Knicks, that apparently meant bringing back some old friends, including Nerlens Noel. The center re-upped with the Knicks Monday for a hefty three-year, $32 million contract.
Free agent C Nerlens Noel is returning to the New York Knicks on a three-year, $32M contract, his agent @GeorgeLangberg tells ESPN. Tom Thibodeau keeps his rim protector.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 2, 2021
Noel was a revelation for the Knicks, playing 63 games and starting 41 in place of the oft-injured Mitchell Robinson. Noel averaged 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. His defense was critical to several New York wins.
However, Noel was a massive liability in the playoffs against the Hawks and Clint Capela. Was he banged up? Perhaps. But Noel is an undersized center, and against the much bigger Capela, he didn’t stand a chance.
Personally, I think three years and $32 million is too much for non-elite big man in today’s NBA. The Knicks were able to pull Taj Gibson off the street last season, and he was starting over Noel by the end of the playoffs. Hopefully we get word later that the third year is a team option.
What does this mean for Mitchell Robinson? The Knicks just picked up his option, so he’ll be back...unless he’s traded. He was the starter last season, but was derailed by hand and ankle injuries. Will he get his starting role back, if healthy? I guess we’ll have to wait until training camp to find out.
Anyway, welcome back to the Knicks, Nerlens! Let’s see some more of that impactful defense next season.