The Sixers’ decision to remove Nerlens Noel from the rotation is baffling and short-sighted, Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines. The team didn’t even attempt to take a long look at him playing alongside either Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor before benching him, Cooney continues. Philadelphia’s coaching staff and front office simply quit on the process of trying to mesh the skills of the three big men and that doesn’t send a good message to the other players, Cooney adds. Cooney hedged on his position, saying there might be something more to the decision than has been revealed publicly.
In other developments around the Atlantic Division:
- The Sixers’ chances of getting the Lakers’ first-round pick have dropped from 91% to 66.6% because of Los Angeles’ losing streak, according to Neil Johnson of ESPN Analytics. The Lakers originally dealt the pick to the Suns in 2012 while acquiring guard Steve Nash. Philadelphia acquired the pick in 2015 in a three-way deal with the Suns and Bucks. The pick is top three protected in the next draft and unprotected in 2018. The Lakers’ expected draft position per BPI is currently 4.8, according to Johnson, meaning the Sixers would get the No. 4 or No. 5 pick from L.A. if the odds hold up.
- Joakim Noah has been a major bust and the Knicks center may soon lose his starting job, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Coach Jeff Hornacek said to Berman and other media members that Noah’s starting status is “something we have to keep our eye on.’’ Noah, who was signed to a four-year, $72MM contract as a free agent, has been a major liability on offense, which more than offsets the occasional energy boost he provides with his rebounding and defense, Berman adds.
- Teams have a better chance of retaining their top free agents under the new CBA and that could hurt the Celtics’ chances of becoming a top contender, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald opines. The Celtics were able to land Al Horford and make a serious run for Kevin Durant but that probably wouldn’t have happened if the new CBA had been in place this past summer, Bulpett continues. It will be tougher to attract top free agents in the future, which will force the Celtics to rely on trades and the draft to improve, Bulpett adds.