Noel hasn't played since tearing a ligament in his thumb in late November and with his extended absence have come rumors of a possible buyout from his one-year deal with the Mavericks. However, it appears the 23-year-old will remain in Dallas until at least the end of the season, with the Mavericks aiming to get him back on the court in the near future.
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said Sunday that Noel (thumb) has progressed to five-on-zero and non-contact drills, Earl K. Sneed of the Mavericks' official site reports. Carlisle is hopeful that Noel will be available shortly after the All-Star break.
After re-signing with the Mavericks on a one-year deal in August, Noel has done little to bolster his value on the open market in his first full season in Dallas. Noel has occupied only a fringe spot in the rotation for the Mavericks, averaging 4.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game over 18 appearances before requiring thumb surgery in early December. While it appears he's on the mend and trending toward a return within a few weeks, Noel could find himself behind Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri and Dirk Nowitzki in the pecking order at center once he's healthy again.
Coach Rick Carlisle said Noel (thumb) will likely return after the first week of February, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports.
Noel was originally hoping to return near the start of February, but it appears the big man is progressing slower than expected in his rehab. Carlisle didn't specify how much longer he thought Noel would be sidelined, though it sounds like he won't be cleared to return until after the trade deadline, which is Feb. 8. The 23-year-old fell out of favor prior to suffering the injury, so he may be limited to a minor role even when he's healthy.
Noel (thumb) is expected to ramp up his activity in two weeks and is targeting a return in early February, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com reports.
Noel recently had the cast removed from his left thumb, but he's still got a ways to go before making a return to the floor. He's still two weeks from upping his participation and it's unclear when exactly he'll be cleared for full contact practices. Either way, the Mavericks are expecting to be without him for at least another month, so fantasy owners can continue to avoid the situation. Noel fell out of the rotation prior to suffering the injury, so he could be buried on the depth chart even when he's cleared.
Noel had his the cast on his left thumb removed shortly before the holidays, but the Mavericks haven't offered a timetable for his return and likely won't have one until he resumes practicing in some capacity. The 23-year-old fell out of the rotation before undergoing surgery and will likely be no better than third on the depth chart at center once he's cleared to play again.
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