It seems as though only trouble is surrounding the Sixers young talent as of late. After Joel Embiid and "WeightGate" reared its ugly head late last week, Philadelphia may be dealing with some tension between Michael Carter-Williams and power forward Nerlens Noel. After the Sixers were dismantled by the Washington Wizards Monday afternoon, Noel voiced his frustration to the traveling Philadelphia media.
Noel on guards not getting ball to big men: "we have to be able to reward our big guys. We have to move the ball. It was stagnant again."— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) January 19, 2015
Noel then said this about J. Wall: "he makes that team go. He's a point guard that really keeps his players involved and everybody's happy"— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) January 19, 2015
Noel on Wizards: "they are an unselfish team. They care about each other more than they do themselves." Nerlens not a happy camper.— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) January 19, 2015
Noel has every right to be upset as he was one of few guys who continued to play hard when the game got really out of hand. But in the context of those tweets, it looks like there are some underlying issues between Philadelphia's pick & roll duo. Despite a (now deleted) report from a Syracuse outlet that said the two have had multiple confrontations, a source tells Liberty Ballers that there has not been an indication of any rifts between the second-year players.
Noel and Carter-Williams have know each other for years, dating back to when the two were AAU teammates back in high school. This may be Noel's way of knowing what buttons to push to get his old friend to try and get his head in the right place.
Regardless of his intentions, Noel speaking out in this manner is the first time someone in this young core has really attempted to assert himself. While Carter-Wiliams became the face of the team last year, frankly, his ever changing on court demeanor has put his leadership abilities in question. When things are going good for the team, the former Syracuse guard is in the mix and supporting his team. But when games aren't going well, he lets it get the best of him. He starts bickering with referees, and then proceeds to be the last guy up the court on defense. His frustrations effectively take him out of the game.
While taking subtle digs at his play style may not be the best way to go about the situation, the best thing Carter-Williams can do is realize Noel's intentions are to help him continue to grow as a player, and help the team grow as a unit. Hell, the two of them were dougie-ing away their rookie photoshoot only a year ago, and are just a week removed from this:
The season is going to have its ups and downs, and players will react in accordance. But Noel is trying to fill a vacant leadership role on a team that needs a voice to turn to. Whether the message is well received by Carter-Williams, only time will tell.