DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks made a play for the future Thursday by acquiring big man Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a protected first-round draft pick.
A person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press the teams agreed on the deal before the trade deadline. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the trade, first reported by Yahoo Sports, had not been announced by either team.
The 22-year-old Noel was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft. He clashed with the Sixers at times during his stay due to a logjam in the frontcourt that also included Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. He gives the Mavericks an athletic, defensive-minded power forward who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Noel's fit in the rotation could be tricky early because of how Harrison Barnes has thrived in his first season with the Mavericks in Dirk Nowitzki's spot at power forward with the 7-foot German playing more center.
But the trade fits with the Mavericks' intentions to get younger and more athletic with Nowitzki's career winding down and the team among the also-rans in the Western Conference with an outside shot at the eighth playoff spot.
Dallas might be doing the same at point guard. Deron Williams was excused from practice for the second straight day with the Mavericks considering trade offers for him. Coach Rick Carlisle said Williams' absence was because of "another pending situation."
With the deadline gone, the Mavericks could consider waiving or buying out the 32-year-old Williams. If so, the job would go to 23-year-old rookie Yogi Ferrell, who had a dazzling start under a 10-day contract when Williams was hurt and earned a two-year deal.
Bogut ended up not being a great fit at center in Dallas after coming over in a trade with Golden State when the Warriors had to unload players to make room under the salary cap for Kevin Durant.
The 32-year-old Bogut was limited to 26 games by injuries but ended up coming off the bench when he was healthy. The Mavericks discovered early in the season that he wasn't a good starting fit with Nowitzki, and Barnes' success in Nowitzki's spot played a part in that.
Noel missed the first 23 games this season with a left knee injury after battling a groin issue in the preseason. He started 133 of 142 games his first two seasons after missing a year because of knee surgery coming out of Kentucky. Noel has career averages of 10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
"I'm not here to evaluate the trade," Nowitzki said before the deal was announced. "We'll move forward with that player starting hopefully tomorrow or the day after that. Potentially? Yeah. He's what, 21, 22? He's been around a long time already, but he can still learn and bring his youth and athleticism to this team."
The Sixers will be without Embiid for at least the first four games after the All-Star break to finish his recovery from a left knee injury. The team said Thursday it expects the 7-footer to return March 3 against New York.
Anderson was a first-round pick by Dallas in 2015 but never could work his way into the rotation consistently. He averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 106 games with 11 starts for the Mavericks.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report from Minneapolis.