• The Kings and Raptors show their interest in Knicks big man Nerlens Noel
  • Noel showed a new dimension in his game by focusing on defense
  • The Kings and Raptors prepare for the departure of their big men

Nerlens Noel played his role for the New York Knicks last season but at a lesser capacity.

Regardless, the sixth overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft proved that he could be a pillar on defense.

This is seen as the reason why some teams are now interested in the 6-foot-11 cager.

Noel is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and teams are lurking. That includes the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, two clubs that are preparing for the potential exit of their current big men.

In a recent episode of HoopsHype, Michael Scotto revealed that unnamed sources tell him that the Kings and Raptors have Noel on their radar.

Sacramento’s pursuit will, however, depend on what happens with Richaun Holmes.

However, Noel is not certain of entirely leaving Gotham just yet. The Knicks remain interested in the Massachusetts native, aware that he was one of the reasons why their defense held up this NBA season.

Despite taking on a different role, Noel struck it well with Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Looking at his performance in the 2020-21 NBA season, Noel was not exactly one of the noticeable performers. He averaged 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and a steal in 24.2 minutes of action as a Knicks player.

But his efficiency goes beyond those numbers. His 6-foot-11 frame was put to good use, a reason why he was able to alter shots and make life miserable for opposing players.

For teams in need of someone willing to take on the dirty work, Noel is undoubtedly it.

The Kings and Raptors need that kind of player, especially if their current big men move to other teams.

Aside from Holmes, another player who could test free agency is Hassan Whiteside.

Whiteside may be hardly a share of his old self but is still a defensive asset for Sacramento.

Bogdan Bogdanovic #13 of the Atlanta Hawks grabs a rebound against Nerlens Noel #3 of the New York Knicks
Bogdan Bogdanovic #13 of the Atlanta Hawks grabs a rebound against Nerlens Noel #3 of the New York Knicks Getty Images | Kevin C. Cox

The same case holds for the Raptors. Khem Birch could be leaving, and it is no secret that head coach Nick Nurse continues to look for a big man who can fill in the middle.

With multiple teams interested in Noel, the summer should be interesting.

But right now, the Knicks may want to step up their efforts if they are bent on keeping the former Kentucky standout.