The time for the Philadelphia 76ers to trade someone in their cadre of centers is coming. Joel Embiid isn’t going anywhere. That leaves Jahlil Okafor and especially a frustrated Nerlens Noel available for movement.
Just below is a video of Noel expressing his displeasure with the situation. It came after his 8-minute appearance in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Noel isn’t completely right here. Yes, the Sixers, with Sam Hinkie making the moves before getting fired (or forced to resign, doesn’t matter at this point), created an impossible situation with too many big men and draft picks all trying to get minutes, something that they knew would come back to bite them at some point if a trade wasn’t going to happen. Noel was the first of the group, missing one season, then being the only good player on a terrible team before Okafor arrived, while the Sixers were hyping Embiid for two seasons while he sat out, waiting to make his NBA debut. Noel isn’t just frustrated with minutes (a total of 18 in two games this season), but the way he’s being treated.
Something Noel is forgetting: He had knee surgery that kept him out of the first five weeks of the season. He made his debut on December 11, and had an ankle sprain which limited his comeback to 10 minutes. Him playing 8 minutes a few days later isn’t very surprising. Yes, it has something to do with the Sixers not having enough minutes to spread among him, Okafor and Embiid with Noel being the most tradeable of them. But the Sixers are also keeping it safe, something they’ve been doing for about four years, since the whole tanking process began.
Noel is looking for minutes and quickly. He’s thinking that playing big minutes can earn him a max deal in the offseason, which probably isn’t too far off from what he’ll receive. Steven Adams signed a four-year, $100 million deal in the summer, so Noel, at least a healthy, playing version of him can expect $20 million a season easily. This is a 3-pointer NBA, but the big man can still get paid handsomely with numbers that don’t really make anyone too impressed.
Embiid is on his way to win rookie of the year, while Okafor is being limited to 22 minutes a game. He scores – he can always score, averaging 11.7 a night. But unless he shows massive improvement defensively, the Sixers will look to trade him as well. But Noel is the first one on the list, and being the most vocal in the group about frustration over playing time and the entire situation, which was always going to end up leaving a few bruised egos.