Mavericks big man Nerlens Noel has thumb surgery; no timetable for return

Nerlens Noel hasn't had the follow-up season he was hoping for with the Mavericks. After being traded to Dallas from the 76ers last season, Noel looked like a great young piece that was going to be a part of their future. 

However, Noel's had a rough time with the organization since then. During the offseason he tried to get a larger contract, but his restricted free agency status limited him. In the end, he was forced to sign a qualifying offer. So far this season, he's only made 18 appearances and is averaging a career-low 12.5 minutes per game. The highlight of his season came when he dipped out during halftime to get a hot dog.

Which led to a really funny, but kind of awkward, press moment with coach Rick Carlisle where they talked about getting Noel a hot dog sponsorship deal.

Noel's season has now taken another turn for the negative. According to the Mavericks, Noel has a torn ligament in his left thumb that required surgery. There is no timetable for his return.

Noel hadn't played in six games, and he hasn't logged more than 10 minutes since November 4 so it's not like he's a crucial part of the Mavericks rotation. However, for him personally, this is just another bump in a really rough season. Noel needs to play well to earn decent contract this summer, but he hasn't been able to get on the floor.

It will be interesting to see how the Mavericks choose to approach Noel when he returns. Do they continue to use him as an end of bench player or do they throw him back out there and sees what he can do? If he can't make an impact in Dallas, he might be a popular name around the trade deadline, once again.

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