1:12pm: Responding today to Noel’s comments, Colangelo reiterated that he’s not shopping any specific players, suggesting that – as a new GM – he was simply gauging league-wide interest in his players (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of PhillyMag.com). Colangelo added that the situation shouldn’t be affected by Noel’s comments, and that Embiid’s health will be a major factor in the Sixers’ plans (Twitter links via Bodner and Pompey). The team isn’t in a rush to make any moves, per Colangelo (Twitter link via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com).
Meanwhile, Noel doubled down on his earlier comments this afternoon. While he stressed he isn’t unhappy in Philadelphia, the big man said he doesn’t see “any way of it working” when asked again about the center logjam (Twitter link via Bodner).
8:37am: With Joel Embiid poised to make his NBA debut this season, the Sixers are stacked at the center position, as Embiid joins Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor in the rotation. The logjam at the position has resulted in plenty of trade rumors involving Noel and Okafor this offseason, but the team has yet to make a move. And as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Noel is starting to publicly question when a move will happen.
“I think it’s just silly… this situation that we are in now with three starting centers,” Noel said. “With the departure of [former GM] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to get something done this summer. … I think something needs to happen.”
According to Noel, he’s not asking to be traded himself, or demanding that the Sixers make a move immediately. However, it sounds as if he views a deal as inevitable, since it doesn’t make sense for the club to play out the season with all three players, assuming they all stay healthy. According to Noel, it’s the equivalent of having “three starting quarterbacks.”
“I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out,” Noel said. “I think at the end of the day, again, you have three starting-caliber centers. 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.”
Although GM Bryan Colangelo has suggested in the past that heading into the season with Okafor, Noel, and Embiid all on the roster isn’t necessarily ideal, the Sixers also like all three players and don’t want to sell one of them for below market value. Appearing on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast last week, Colangelo denied aggressively shopping Okafor and Noel, adding that the team’s desire to make a deal has been overstated and calling it a “high-class problem” to have three promising young centers.
Noel tells Pompey that he knows he “was shopped,” though that could be a question of semantics — it’s not clear whether the Sixers were instigating trade discussions or simply talking to teams that called to ask about their bigs. According to Pompey, Noel’s name has come up in trade talks with the Celtics, Suns, Hawks, and Rockets, but Philadelphia turned down multiple offers for the 22-year-old. Another source tells Pompey that the Sixers have also spoken to the Raptors and Spurs.
While it remains possible that the Sixers will make a move prior to the regular season, the club had been hoping to make it until at least December 15, per Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). That would give Okafor and Embiid time to prove they’re fully healthy, and it would allow players who signed new deals this offseason to become trade-eligible, opening the door for more possible scenarios.