December 19, 2016, 11:40 am
Bryan Colangelo had a nearly hour-long media session today and covered several topics, including the increasingly uncomfortable Nerlens Noel situation. Sixers beat writer Tom Moore and the Daily News’ Bob Cooney were there and grabbed the money items below.
On that topic, Colangelo said about what you’d expect at this point. They have lots of big men, are intrigued by the potential Embiid-Noel combo and are trying to improve the roster. Most interesting was the notion that Noel staying healthy and acting professionally could lead to a trade. Noel seems destined to be shipped out of town, and his recent removal from the rotation makes it look like the team doesn’t see him as a long-term part of the roster at the moment. Of course, Colangelo also said that that could change at pretty much any time. While Philly would obviously rather be rid of Jahlil Okafor’s empty statlines, he’s received tepid interest as rival teams clearly covet Noel’s ability to contribute on defense.
Something’s gotta give here, and while the team will continue to struggle juggling its big men, Colangelo won’t make a trade for a trade’s sake; notably calling out trade requests. That’s absolutely the correct stance to take, though it’s hard to imagine Philadelphia couldn’t get a nice return for Noel even in their current state of minimal leverage. He’s a defensive game breaker and will be highly motivated to salvage his contract year, so he’ll be going all out whenever he’s on the floor. This is also some fine work by Colangelo to try and rebuild Philly’s leverage even though no GM should take the bait. It’s one thing to say “we don’t need to make a trade” but when there’s a good young player that’s been bounced from the rotation and set to hit free agency it’s like blood to a shark. Expect no shortage of Noel rumors until this gets resolved.
Curiously, Colangelo also said that the logjam was handed down from “decisions that were made before I got here.” That’s almost assuredly a toothless comment, but those decisions also led to Joel Embiid, Dario Saric, Robert Covington and a bevy of picks to turn into gold. A good craftsman never blames his tools. To be fair, Colangelo did credit Sam Hinkie for the yield of The Process later on.
On a housekeeping note, the Sixers won’t rush Ben Simmons back and have no timetable for his return. That’s the expected play, as the team is far out of contention and really stand to gain nothing by forcing Simmons back. It’s looking like we won’t see the Aussie make his debut for a while.