Ex-Cats

Ex-Cat Noel finds new NBA home. See which former UK stars he's joining.

Nerlens Noel's 2017-18 season with the Dallas Mavericks included just 30 games played, averages of 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, and a suspension by the NBA for violating its drug policy.
Nerlens Noel's 2017-18 season with the Dallas Mavericks included just 30 games played, averages of 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds, and a suspension by the NBA for violating its drug policy. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Former Kentucky center Nerlens Noel has found a new landing spot in the NBA.

The No. 6 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has agreed to sign a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.

Noel, the former No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2012, will have a player option in the second year of the deal, Yahoo reported. The terms of the deal have not yet been reported, but Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman reported that the deal would be for the league minimum salary.

Noel joins former ex-UK players Patrick Patterson, Dakari Johnson and 2018 draftee Hamidou Diallo on the Oklahoma City roster as it currently stands.

Noel was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2013 and remained there until he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in February of 2017. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 30 games for the Mavericks last season. He will sign with the Thunder as an unrestricted free agent.

Noel's days in Dallas came to a close with a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's anti-drug program. A player receives a five-game suspension after a third positive test for marijuana.

The league minimum salary — about $1.3 million per year for a player of Noel's experience — represents a major step back. As a restricted free agent last summer, Noel reportedly turned down a four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavericks in hopes of securing a larger contract.

Noel's time in Lexington was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL in a February game against Florida during his only season at UK. He averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds as a Wildcat.

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