Despite the obvious fit for Noel as the center in coach Rick Carlisle’s system, there is one rather large issue complicating matters: the presence of Dirk Nowitzki on the roster. While Nowitzki will likely go into the Hall of Fame as a revolutionary player due to his shooting ability as a power forward, at 39 and entering his 20th NBA season, he can only realistically be deployed at center.

So with Nowitzki at center and Harrison Barnes at power forward, Carlisle reached out to Noel and his agent, Rich Paul, before training camp began to inform them that Noel would likely be coming off the bench. And while he would rather be starting, the fact Carlisle was upfront and honest about the situation was one of several reasons Noel enjoys playing for him: