The Philadelphia 76ers currently have an awkward predicament with their plethora of front court players, but nobody seemed to express any real displeasure until Sunday evening.
Right before media day, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey spoke to center Nerlens Noel, who seems to be surprised that the situation is not yet resolved.
"I think it's just silly . . . this situation that we are in now with three starting centers," Noel said on the eve of the Sixers' media day. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer."
"I feel like it definitely needs to be figured out," he 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."
Pompey also goes on to mention that Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo has had conversations with several other teams about acquiring the services of the 22-year-old.
Noel's name came up in trade talks with the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, and Houston Rockets, according to sources. Another source said the Sixers were also in discussions with the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs.
Noel does have every reason to be upset. He’s endured the trials and tribulations of the rebuilding process, and is set to become a free agent during a time where rim protectors like himself are being rewarded with hefty contracts. The current situation with Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid would mean that Noel may not have as large a role within the team this year.
However, Noel sounds like he’s begun to move on from the team mentally, and his comments to Pompey make it seem like he wants to force the team’s hand. It’s not a great look for him, especially because the team seems like they’ve been active in trying to resolve the issue. Complaining isn’t likely to move up the timeline for a deal, and comments like that can cause a riff within the organization.
Although the team is likely to appease the fourth-year player in some regard, it may not be in Philadelphia’s best interest to move on from him. Questions will still swirl around Joel Embiid’s health for the foreseeable future, and Okafor’s role on the team and in the league is still being evaluated. There’s certainly still room for a player of Noel’s skill set on this team.
His value around the league is clearly low enough that the Sixers have decided they might as well hold onto him, but there’s a chance they can find a contending team desperate enough to cough up pieces of value around the trade deadline. If not, Noel walking as a free agent may not be entirely out of the equation.
Bryan Colangelo was a guest on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast last week, and when asked about the dilemma involving Noel, he suggested that the situation could “work itself out naturally”.
Bryan Colangelo on Woj's pod talking about moving one of the big men, said the situation could work itself out naturally with free agency. pic.twitter.com/2zx7wFrEj6— Jake Pavorsky (@JakePavorsky) September 21, 2016
Getting scraps for Noel would be better than getting nothing at all, but Philadelphia’s hesitation to pull the trigger could eventually cost them. The problem is clearly beginning to take it’s toll on the main subject of the trade rumors.
There’s no denying Colangelo has his work cut out for him, and making the right call here is certainly his most difficult task to date.