DALLAS – After having one of the best seats in the house to see Nerlens Noel in his debut with the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night, coach Rick Carlisle had two words to describe the occasion.
"Good trade,’’ Carlisle said.
The Mavs shipped Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a protected first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday for Noel. The 6-11, 220-pound center made an immediate impact, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 30 minutes in helping the Mavs to a 96-83 triumph over the New Orleans Pelicans at American Airlines Center.
Carlisle went over some plays with Noel earlier Saturday, and was impressed with the end results.
"It was a good trade for us, it’ll be good for Philly, too," Carlisle said. "He helps us in a lot of ways.
"He had impact on offense, even in situations where he wasn’t touching the ball with his rolls. I don’t know how many deflections he had.’’
Noel had his hand son several balls. He also was mixing it up with arguably the best one-two front court in the NBA in Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
No wonder the fans gave Noel a loud ovation when he entered the game for the first time with 6:57 left in the opening quarter.
"Getting (a loud ovation) in my first game here, that’s something I’m appreciative of,’’ Noel said. "I’m going to work my butt off to please the fan base, and it felt great to get a win in my first game in a Maverick uniform.’’
Noel’s presence opened up a lot of positive avenues for the Mavs, who have been mostly soft in the middle while getting badly beaten on the boards.
"It really eases our frontcourt rotation some, and it gives us a big guy with real quickness and athletic ability that can play very well in games that are small and fast,’’ Carlisle said. "It’s pretty clear that he’s going to help us.
"The minutes are going to be there whether he starts or doesn’t start.’’
Carlisle noticed the body language form his other players in regarding to their reactions when Noel was in the game.
"The guys really loved playing with him tonight and really took to him, and that was great to see," Carlisle said. "Hey, it’s one game, but it’s a good start.’’
The Mavs tried many times, but were unable to get any lob-dunks to Noel. But Carlisle believes that will come with time.
"I believe he’s going to be a good screener, even though he’s slightly built," Carlisle said. "And for a guy that’s on the slender side he plays physical.
"He mixes it up, he sticks his nose in there and he’s unafraid.’’
Noel was key to the Mavs holding Anthony Davis to 12 points and four rebounds in the second half after David piled up 27 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
"We had to be a little more physical,’’ Noel said. "Crashing the glass, showing him a little different looks that would make him hesitant, and we forced some turnovers on him and Cousins, so a lot of credit to the coaching staff, so we’ll keep building on that."
Carlisle knows Noel and his athleticism will enable him to open up his playbook a bit more. And for a coach, that can be a dream come true.
"There was one play we ran where (Noel’s) roll opened up Dirk wide open on the left side,’’ Carlisle said. "He rolled and Dirk’s guy helped in and they only had one of their big guys in at the time, and so Dirk got a wide open shot and swished it.’’
Noel was the odd-man out in Philadelphia, since the Sixers already had a pair of big men they weren’t going to part with in Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. That’s why the Mavs were able to step in and secure one of their young cornerstones for the future.
"He’s very happy to be here, that’s clear to me,’’ Carlisle said. "I explained to him our situation with lineup and all that, and he said he just wants to be part of this organization.
"He’s going to be a guy that’s going to help us in a lot of areas, he’s going to help us defensively, he’s going to give us the best rolling presence to the rim we’ve had since (Tyson) Chandler.
"And I was very impressed with his feel for things – basketball IQ. He’s a soft-spoken kid, but he’s had a really good year this year.’’
And after Saturday night’s performance, the Mavs believe the best is yet to come from Noel.