The jury is still out on whether or not Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor can coexist on the court for the Sixers with Noel’s recent string of strong play coming with Okafor being out with a sore right knee, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays. Noel has thrived at center, his natural position, recently, but played power forward when Okafor was healthy. Okafor, as Pompey adds, is expected to return tonight. Sixers coach Brett Brown said that Noel’s most recent performances might lead to a change in where Noel and Okafor can and should play, Pompey adds. Noel is better suited to play the center position because he is a rim-protector, Pompey notes. Noel becomes eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out and how the two big men develop.
Here’s more out of Philadelphia:
- The Sixers did not intend on releasing Tony Wroten on Christmas Eve, a move they took some criticism for, and preferred to do that the day after Christmas, but the Pelicans insisted on last week’s trade being completed Thursday, Pompey writes in a separate piece. The Sixers, therefore, needed to create a roster spot to complete the trade for Ish Smith from the Pelicans, and thus Wroten was cut. The Sixers are thrilled to have Smith because they believe his presence and skills give them a boost on the court, Pompey notes.
- There is a strong chance that the Sixers would have acquired Smith for less if they had waited a few more weeks and pulled the trigger on the deal closer to the deadline, Derek Bodner of Phillymag.com writes in a mailbag response. Such a move presents a change in the way the Sixers operate because the team overpaid in exchanging two future second-round picks to fix an immediate problem, Bodner adds.