Cavs: Nerlens Noel would be a quality defensive free agent addition

Oklahoma City Thunder big Nerlens Noel (#9) blocks a shot. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Oklahoma City Thunder big Nerlens Noel (#9) blocks a shot. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images) /
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Nerlens Noel, Cleveland Cavaliers
Oklahoma City Thunder big Nerlens Noel looks on. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers adding Nerlens Noel would be wise.

It was refreshing to see the Cleveland Cavaliers address the defensive end of the floor by selecting Auburn wing Isaac Okoro in the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday at fifth overall.

Okoro has the makings of being Cleveland’s best on-ball defender, even pretty early on I believe, with his ability to sit and slide, deter pull-up threats and legitimately switch 1-4.

Okoro is a very active and alert team defender, too, though, and while his shot has a ways to go, he’ll be able to aid Cleveland as a secondary playmaker/ball-mover, as a cutter/transition player and as a highly capable finisher. He’s the type of prospect that can help further instill a winning culture in coming years as well.

So from there, with the draft in the books for the Cavs, in which they drafted a defensive-first wing, of which was I was on-board, with, the next focus to me should shift to the backup 5 spot for Cleveland.

While it seems likely that he will eventually be traded at some point, though not immediately, given a report from earlier this week from Forbes‘ Evan Dammarell about that likely being the case should Andre Drummond opt in, I’d imagine he will be a deadline piece for Cleveland. Drummond picked up his $28.7 million player option earlier this week, but Dammarell at least stated it’s likely Drummond doesn’t sign an extension with Cleveland.

That’s due to’s Chris Fedor reporting how multiple sources told him that if Cleveland were to trade Drummond, their “best chance” to do so would be near the 2021 deadline. So, I’d think Drummond should stick around with the Cavaliers for a good chunk of next season, anyhow, and we’ll see, perhaps he’ll be around through the deadline and ends up being a good fit.

To me, though, the Cavs’ primary focus in upcoming free agency, if Tristan Thompson does not end up back, which seems increasingly likely with how he reportedly rejected a Cavs “offer,” albeit it wasn’t one formally, should be looking at other backup 5 options. It is nice to know Thompson reportedly wants to try to finish his career with the Cavs, but we can’t bank on him being back.

And in the aforementioned report, in which Fedor gave another mailbag set of responses, he mentioned some wing targets, but most notably, in this sense after the Okoro selection, he mentioned a few potential Cavs big targets should Thompson essentially not be back.

Those were, with “at least a portion of” the $8-10 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception, a few intriguing targets in Harry Giles, Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, Aron Baynes and Thon Maker, per Fedor.

Here, I’ll focus in on what the soon-to-be unrestricted Noel could provide for the Cavs, with again, at minimum, some of the MLE. He made $2 million via minimum deal last season. So perhaps in the ballpark of say, a two-year deal in the ball park of $5-6 million per year could be realistic?

Now, objectively, Noel could be reunited with the team that originally drafted him in the Philadelphia 76ers, seemingly after they recently waived Norvel Pelle, per a report from Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Thursday.

Pompey stated how that there’s a “real chance” of that, per his sources, and Noel has the same representation in Klutch Sports Group as Sixers star Ben Simmons, of whom Noel is “close friends” with, too, as Pompey hit on.

But given Fedor’s Noel suggestion, I still think the Cavs would be wise to at least target him.

Clearly, Noel would be a quality defensive addition by the Cavs.

Firstly, the 26-year-old Noel would be an impact defender.