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Toronto Raptors interested in trading for Nerlens Noel

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Toronto has expressed interest in trading for Noel.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been little movement on the Nerlens Noel trade front recently, but ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on Friday that the Toronto Raptors are still in the mix to acquire disgruntled center Nerlens Noel.

The Raptors are among the teams that have expressed interest in Philadelphia's very available Nerlens Noel, but sources say Toronto's initial preference in the wake of losing Jared Sullinger (foot) to injury is to give more minutes to various younger players (such as rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl) so they get first crack at filling the void.

This isn’t the first time the Raptors have been linked to Noel. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported back in June that Toronto had reached out to Philadelphia about acquiring Noel’s services in exchange for a package that featured small forward Terrence Ross. The 25-year-old Ross, who has two years left on his deal worth $21 million total, was drafted by Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo in 2012 when he was president of the Raptors.

Other intriguing pieces on Toronto’s roster include second-year shooting guard Norman Powell, who shot 40 percent from beyond the arc in his rookie season, and point guard Delon Wright. They currently own all of their first-round picks for the next five years, as well as the Los Angeles Clippers’ 2017 first-round pick.

Sullinger could miss up to three months of game action with a stress reaction in his left foot, which is why the team is testing the market for some front court depth. Their current in-house options, Siakam and Poeltl, are both rookies being thrown into important roles very early in their pro careers. Siakam, a second-round pick from New Mexico State, has been starting at the four in place of Sullinger, while Poeltl is averaging 14.5 minutes as the team’s backup center behind Jonas Valanciunas.

Noel is expected to be out another 2-3 weeks as he rehabs an inflamed plica, so that may be enough time for the Raptors to evaluate if the young big men can handle their respective roles. There’s potential for a trade to be revisited around Thanksgiving time.

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