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Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers Notes: Bayless, Noel, Okafor, Brown

Injured point guard Jerryd Bayless should consider surgery on his left wrist, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bayless has only played in three of the Sixers’ 20 games because of a torn ligament. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection last week and plans to join the team for Monday’s game with the Nuggets. “I’m going to try to play,” Bayless said. “I want to play. I want to get to the point where I can play and not worry about it.” Pompey commends Bayless for attempting to play through the pain after signing a three-year, $27MM contract this summer, but he adds that surgery is probably the wiser move considering that the Sixers seem doomed to another non-playoff season.

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • The Sixers need to get Nerlens Noel back on the court before they can make a decision about whether to trade him or Jahlil Okafor, according to Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Noel has been sidelined since October 24th when he had surgery to take care of inflamed tissue above his left knee. Okafor has a much higher trade value right now, Cooney states, because he is a proven scorer and other teams are wary of Noel’s health. Once Noel returns, which could be in a couple of weeks, the team may have difficulty finding enough minutes for him with Okafor and Joel Embiid already in place.
  • Brett Brown isn’t in any immediate danger of being fired, Cooney contends in the same piece. Despite a league-worst 4-16 record, Cooney doesn’t believe the organization will get rid of Brown before he has a chance to work with No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, who has been out since the preseason with a fracture in his right foot.
  • The Sixers have started using Embiid and Okafor on the court together and the early results have been positive, notes Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly“I liked our spacing, I liked the high-low stuff we were doing,” Brown said. “I think when you post Joel, that Jahlil is going to play sort of hide-and-seek on the other side of the floor, and work that low zone, and become — I hope — a potent offensive rebounder. When you post Jahlil, Joel has the ability to space to three.”

Community Shootaround: Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel seems like the odd man out in Philadelphia and while he hasn’t come out and demanded a trade, he clearly wouldn’t mind a change of scenery.

“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” Noel said of the Sixers’ roster during training camp. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers (Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid). And it’s just not going to work to anybody’s advantage having that on the same team. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.”

Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors detailed the perils of trading for the former No. 6 overall pick in his Trade Candidate piece. Noel reportedly doesn’t have a ton of value of the trade market with his injury history and his looming restricted free agency causing concerns. Still, Adams notes that getting back something in a trade is better than nothing for Philly, as Noel doesn’t appear to have a long-term future with the franchise.

So that leads us to tonight’s topic: Which teams should make an offer for Noel? What could Philly reasonably expect to get back in return for the 22-year-old?

Adams names Phoenix as an intriguing landing spot for Noel. The Suns could afford a pricey new contract for Noel and they could offer up Brandon Knight for him since the backcourt rotation of Knight, Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker hasn’t netted positive results for the team this season. Knight is likely the best player the Sixers could receive in return for Noel, though that’s just my speculation. However, it’s unclear whether Philadelphia would even want to acquire Knight since the franchise isn’t in a position to be competitive now and the point guard’s upside is limited.

Noel also carried limited upside, but his defense would be welcomed on many teams. The Warriors and Blazers are among the teams that could use his services, though each team would likely have to send back substantial salary in order to accommodate a deal, as Adams notes.

Construct your best Noel trade and let us know the details in the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!

Trade Candidate: Nerlens Noel

In the months leading up to February’s trade deadline, Hoops Rumors will be taking a closer look at several players we consider trade candidates, discussing their value, speculating on potential destinations, and explaining why they are – or should be – available. These players won’t necessarily be dealt in advance of the deadline, but it won’t be surprising if they are.
Nerlens Noel vertical

Nerlens Noel, F/C
Philadelphia 76ers
2016/17 salary: $4,384,490
Eligible for restricted free agency in 2017
Trade restrictions: None

Since the 2016 offseason began, trade rumors have surrounded Sixers centers Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, and while those rumblings grew awfully loud around the time of the draft, both Noel and Okafor remain in Philadelphia. The team’s inactivity surprised many observers, including Noel, who kicked off training camp in September by calling the Sixers’ logjam at center “silly” and suggesting that something “needs to happen” to resolve the situation.

“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” Noel said at the time. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers (Noel, Okafor, and Joel Embiid). And it’s just not going to work to anybody’s advantage having that on the same team. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated.”

The Sixers’ logjam sorted itself out during the first several weeks of the season, as Noel was sidelined after undergoing to a knee procedure, and Embiid and Okafor were on minutes limits due to injury concerns of their own. However, Okafor’s minutes limit has been lifted, Embiid’s has been increased, and Noel appears close to returning to the lineup. With Embiid thriving in his first healthy season, and Noel ready to make his season debut, the 76ers’ frontcourt is more crowded than ever. That fact wasn’t lost on Noel, as Marc Narducci of Philly.com detailed this week.

Noel’s public griping about the situation in Philadelphia so far has been somewhat subdued — it’s not as if he’s come out and demanded that the Sixers move him. Still, ESPN’s Marc Stein recently suggested that the big man would “prefer to be shipped to a new address,” and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders has heard similar whispers.

According to Kyler, all indications are that Noel wants to be traded this season, and the Sixers will do everything they can to accommodate that (Twitter links). If all things were equal, Philadelphia may have a tough call on which player to trade between Noel and Okafor, but Noel “does not want to be there” and would like to have his own situation somewhere, according to Kyler (Twitter links). The only problem? The former sixth overall pick doesn’t currently have a ton of trade value, per Kyler (Twitter link).

At age 22, Noel is still young and has plenty of promise. Last season, in 67 games for the Sixers, he averaged a solid 11.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.8 SPG, and 1.5 BPG, shooting 52.1% from the floor. Still, there are a few reasons potential suitors will be wary of giving up a whole lot of value to land Noel.

First and foremost, Noel’s injury history is a concern. A torn ACL wiped out his entire NBA rookie season, and another knee injury has kept him out of action so far this season. While the former Kentucky Wildcat doesn’t as extensive a history of health problems as his teammate Embiid, clubs will want to see him get back on the floor this season to make sure he looks 100% before anything happens on the trade front.

When Noel does get back on the court, teams will keep an eye on his continued development at both ends of the floor. Known for his defense, rebounding, and rim-protecting ability, Noel has the potential to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate in his prime, and that type of player remains very valuable in today’s NBA. On the other end of the floor though, his offensive game is extremely limited. It’s worth watching to see if he shows improvement on offense, but possible trade partners for the Sixers will have to take Noel’s current limitations into account.

Finally, Noel’s contract situation will play a big part in upcoming trade talks. On one hand, a young player still on his rookie contract has plenty of appeal — any team conscious of cutting costs will love that Noel is only earning about $4.384MM this season. Since he’s in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal though, Noel is about to get much more expensive. Eligible for restricted free agency in July, Noel could command an annual salary exceeding $20MM on a new deal, given the free agent prices we saw this past summer for older centers with less upside such as Timofey Mozgov and Ian Mahinmi.

Noel’s looming free agency makes it tricky for certain teams to construct a deal that makes sense. The Trail Blazers, for instance, could use a big man with Noel’s skill set, and the Sixers’ ability to take on some extra salary would benefit Portland in the short term. But could the Blazers afford to extend Noel next summer, considering the club already has nearly $130MM in guaranteed money on its books for 2017/18? Sending a big contract or two to the Sixers would help reduce that number, but an extension for Noel would likely put the franchise right back in tax territory.

Teams like the Raptors and Warriors would be in the same boat as Portland, facing financial challenges when it comes to extending Noel, but both teams would be solid fits for the young big. Toronto could offer a package that includes Terrence Ross, while Golden State could perhaps offer Ian Clark, Kevon Looney, and/or draft picks.

Of course, the Celtics have long been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Noel, and Boston could use a shot-blocker in the middle. Despite the C’s wealth of assets though, GM Danny Ainge may be reluctant to part with some of them for Noel until he determines whether he needs to hang onto all of them to pull off a bigger trade for a star. If no star-level player is available, perhaps the C’s get more serious about someone line Noel. The Sixers would likely target a guard such as Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart.

One intriguing potential trade partner for Philadelphia is the Suns. Phoenix has the cap flexibility to comfortably afford a long-term contract for Noel, and the team has a crowded backcourt at the moment, with starters Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker pushing Brandon Knight to the bench. It’s not clear if the Sixers would have interest in Knight, but he’s under contract through 2019/20 at a reasonable rate ($14.125MM per year) and could provide the sort of backcourt scoring punch Philadelphia has been lacking.

Ultimately, Noel is right that the Sixers’ logjam at center is untenable, and with his contract set to expire at season’s end, Philadelphia will likely have to move him by the deadline to recoup some value for him. Even if the team only gets 50 cents on the dollar, that’s a better outcome than losing Noel for nothing next summer, since it doesn’t appear as if he has a long-term future in Philadelphia.

What do you think? Should the Sixers trade or keep Noel? Weigh in below in the comments section with your thoughts and possible trade ideas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/2/16

Here are Friday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Clippers recalled forward Diamond Stone from the D-League earlier today, the team announced. Stone appeared in four games for the Santa Cruz Warriors, where he was sent via the flexible assignment rule, and averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.0 minutes of action per outing.
  • The Sixers sent Nerlens Noel to their D-League affiliate in Delaware earlier today in order for the big man to participate in the 87ers’ practice, the team announced. The center was subsequently recalled this afternoon, Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com tweets.
  • The Hawks have recalled small forward DeAndre’ Bembry from the D-League, the team announced via press release. Bembry’s stint in the D-League was spent with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s affiliate, since Atlanta does not possess an affiliate of its own. The 2016 first-rounder has appeared in seven games for the Hawks this season, averaging 1.3 points on 33.3% shooting.
  • Chris McCullough has been assigned to the Nets‘ D-League affiliate, the team announced via press release. McCullough has averaged 18.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29.1 minutes per contest in six games on assignment with Long Island this season.
  • The Pelicans sent rookie forward Cheick Diallo to the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League via to the flexible assignment system, the team announced. Diallo has appeared in six games with Austin already this campaign, averaging 14.3 points on .553 shooting from the floor, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

Nerlens Noel Unhappy With Frontcourt Logjam

  • Nerlens Noel isn’t happy about the logjam in the Sixers’ frontcourt, Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Noel is skeptical that there will be enough minutes to go around, now that Joel Embiid has established himself, Narducci continues. “I don’t think the roster’s changed,” Noel told Narducci. Noel, sidelined by a knee injury since training camp, returned to the team on Thursday after working out with its D-League affiliate. But coach Brett Brown estimates Noel will miss four or five more games, Narducci adds.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/1/16

Here are Thursday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

8:36pm:

  • The Nets recalled point guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Chris McCullough from the Long Island Nets in time for their game against the Bucks, according to a team press release. Ferrell and McCullough started for Long Island earlier in the day in the team’s 114-104 victory over Santa Cruz in Brooklyn. Ferrell recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists, while McCullough totaled 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

2:34pm:

  • As expected, Nerlens Noel was recalled from the D-League today by the Sixers, the team announced in a press release. Noel figures to go back and forth between the NBA club and the Delaware 87ers as he continues to rehab his knee injury and works toward a return.
  • Speaking of going back and forth between the NBA and the D-League, the Raptors once again assigned Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet to their NBADL affiliate today, per the team (Twitter link). Given the close proximity the Raptors and Raptors 905, Caboclo and VanVleet are among the league leaders in D-League assignments so far this season.
  • The Bucks have recalled guard Rashad Vaughn from the Westchester Knicks, according to a press release from the club. Milwaukee doesn’t control its own NBADL affiliate, so Vaughn played for New York’s affiliate, and has averaged just 16.6 minutes per game for the quad in three games this year — if the Bucks had their own D-League team, Vaughn likely would have seen more playing time.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Okafor, Noel, Simmons

Joel Embiid has been cleared for 28 minutes per game, another sign that his recovery from foot problems is going well, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The rookie center had been limited to 24 minutes along with restrictions on back-to-back games. Even with those limits, he has averaged 18.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per night in 12 contests. The decision to expand his minutes was made after consultations with team doctors. Embiid underwent a CT scan on Monday that showed his foot is in good shape. “Everybody would see the impact that Joel has when he is on the floor,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “The four minutes by all indications will give us a better chance of winning.”

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • The postponement of tonight’s game with the Kings robbed fans of the chance to see Embiid and Jahlil Okafor on the court together, writes Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers’ first-round picks in 2014 and 2015 have shared the court for just two minutes and 36 seconds so far this season, but Brown had planned to use them extensively to match up with Sacramento’s big front line. “Tonight, there are matchups the other team puts on the floor that justify it and feel it’s not hurting the team,” Brown said before the game. “You want to judge it on defense and are we getting up and down the floor and matchups, but tonight seems like a good night to make it happen.”
  • Nerlens Noel is expected to join the Sixers for practice on Thursday after a short stay in the D-League, tweets Derek Bodner of PhillyMag. Noel was sent to the team’s affiliate in Delaware Tuesday on a rehab assignment.
  • Rookie Ben Simmons continues his slow recovery from surgery after fracturing his right foot in October, Bodner tweets. Simmons, who is expected to take over at point guard when he returns, was at a recent practice working on post passes to Embiid and Okafor while sitting on a chair.

And-Ones: Postponement, Goodwin, Adams, Smith

The Sixers and Kings will have to find room on their schedules for a make-up game after tonight’s contest in Philadelphia was postponed because of excess moisture on the floor of Wells Fargo Center. Crews worked for about an hour trying to dry the court before the game was officially called off. No makeup date was announced, but there is speculation that it will be rescheduled when the Kings make their next Eastern swing in late January. Both teams are off and the arena will be available on January 30th, tweets The Vertical’s Bobby Marks.

There’s more basketball news tonight:

  • Archie Goodwin, who was waived by the Pelicans November 20th, has been claimed by the Greensboro Swarm of the D-League, according to a tweet from D-League Digest. The Hornets’ affiliate reportedly tried to trade Goodwin’s rights, but couldn’t work out a deal (Twitter link). Goodwin spent the last three seasons with the Suns, but was released in the preseason. The Pelicans signed him earlier this month when injuries left them shorthanded, but he played just three games in New Orleans.
  • Shooting guard Jordan Adams, who was claimed by the Oklahoma City Blue on Monday, has failed his physical, according to D-League Digest (Twitter link). The team will still retain the rights to Adams and will not move back to the top of the waiver order (Twitter link). Adams, a UCLA product, was waived by the Grizzlies during the preseason. A first-round pick in 2014, he had spent the past two seasons in Memphis, playing 30 games in 2014/15 and two games last season.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says a mental lapse by J.R. Smith that led to an easy Bucks basket Tuesday night is a sign of an overall focus problem by the team, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. Smith walked to the Milwaukee bench to greet Jason Terry during an inbounds play, leaving Matthew Dellavedova open for an easy layup. “Obviously we both know it wasn’t intentional, but it was just a lack of focus,” Smith said. “One of the multiple things that compounded onto the loss was just as a team we haven’t been as focused as we previously were.”

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/30/16

Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA, with the latest updates added to the top of the list throughout the day:

4:55pm:

  • The Nets have assigned a pair of players to the D-League, sending Yogi Ferrell and Chris McCullough to the Long Island Nets, the team announced today in a press release. Long Island will host an afternoon contest against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Thursday, so the duo will likely suit up for that game.

12:54pm:

  • As expected, the Hawks have assigned 2016 first-rounder DeAndre’ Bembry to the D-League, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Since Atlanta doesn’t have its own D-League squad, Bembry will play for the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s affiliate.
  • A day after being recalled by Golden State, rookie center Damian Jones has been sent back to the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced today in a press release. Santa Cruz had an early game today, which Jones participated in — he picked up two points, four rebounds, and a pair of blocks.
  • In addition to confirming Nerlens Noel‘s D-League assignment (noted below), the Sixers announced today that they’ve recalled Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from the Delaware 87ers after a brief D-League stint for the rookie.

9:52am:

  • The Sixers are sending Nerlens Noel to their D-League affiliate for injury rehab purposes, league sources tell Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com. According to Spears, Noel, who has yet to make his 2016/17 debut after undergoing a knee procedure, is set to practice on Wednesday with the Delaware 87ers, Philadelphia’s D-League affiliate. Like Jerryd Bayless, who was recently assigned to the 87ers on a rehab assignment, Noel is not expected to play in any games during his time in Delaware. The big man hopes to return to the Sixers by mid-December.

Sam Hinkie Mulling Return To NBA In 2017

In a wide-ranging and fascinating interview with Sam Hinkie, Chris Ballard of SI.com explores what the former Philadelphia general manager has been up to since departing the Sixers earlier this year, and suggests that a return to the NBA could be in the cards for Hinkie in 2017. According to Ballard, Hinkie seemed “unsure” in October about whether or not he’d seek out another NBA job, but now appears more certain that he’ll eventually return to the league.

“I think the world probably assumes that I’m recharging and unplugging, and there’s a little of that,” Hinkie said. “This will get me in trouble if I say it, but I think I’m mostly sharpening the sword to come back.”

During his time in Philadelphia, Hinkie engaged in an unprecedented all-out rebuilding process, which resulted in just 47 total wins in three seasons for the Sixers. During that time, the team rid itself of bad contracts and added several promising prospects, including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. Of course, it wasn’t until after Hinkie’s departure that Embiid made his debut and the Sixers finally landed a No. 1 overall pick, snagging Ben Simmons.

As Ballard writes, Hinkie has been informally approached by “a couple” teams since the spring about potential opportunities, but his agreement with the Sixers still features a non-compete clause. The former 76ers GM won’t have an idea of what the market looks like for him until that non-compete expires at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Speaking to about a half-dozen NBA general managers and executives – including Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who worked with Hinkie in Houston – Ballard found that Hinkie is still held in high regard by many people around the league. Morey indicated that he’d hire his old assistant GM back in a similar role “in a second,” but admitted that Hinkie might not be interested in such a position. For his part, Hinkie will likely remain patient and wait for the right opportunity rather than rushing into a new job next summer, as he tells Ballard.

“I care much more about my life than the likelihood of being employed by next season,” Hinkie said. “The things you learn well compound over time. I’m going to do what I can to stay relevant and dangerous in regards to 2017. But I’m super-focused on what life will look like in 2027 and 2037 and how I can plant seeds now that bear fruit by then, if not before.”

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