The Sixers pulled the trigger on a Nerlens Noel trade this afternoon, a move that sent shockwaves across the NBA. Philadelphia had their best stretch of the Process era when he returned to a regular role this winter, and recent discussions in the public eye centered around a Jahlil Okafor trade.
The return for the Sixers’ big man, which you can read more about here, raises more than a few eyebrows given some context surrounding the deal.
Multiple sources told Liberty Ballers that the Sixers received an offer from the Boston Celtics in the offseason, centered around an exchange of Noel for Boston’s own first-round pick in 2018 or ‘19, with the former the more likely candidate to be moved.
The pick would have been lightly protected, sources say, though the specifics on the exact protections offered were unclear. This would have been designed to protect Boston against catastrophe, and the likelihood is it would have conveyed as a late first-round pick.
It’s not immediately clear why Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo turned down the deal at the time. In discussions with team and league sources, several theories were offered up. The most common was that Colangelo asked for too much for Noel and/or thought he could get a better deal if he waited until the deadline, sources say, though an alternative suggestion was that he was hesitant to trade Noel to a division rival.
The deal the 76ers ended up completing with Dallas involves a heavily-protected first round pick that will likely turn into two seconds in 2018.