The Philadelphia 76ers shocked the world on the night of the 2013 NBA Draft when they traded away the only All-Star on their roster, Jrue Holiday, to acquire the draft rights to the projected number one overall pick, Nerlens Noel, who unceremoniously dropped to sixth in the draft. It was clear that new general manager Sam Hinkie was starting a rebuilding process.
Now the Sixers are in full rebuild mode and are looking to develop young players over the 2013-2014 season and then re-work their roster with a high pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and a ton of cap room that they will have next summer. However, it’s still unclear whether Noel will be one of the young players that they develop on the floor this season.
According to one Sixers’ reporter, Tom Moore, Hinkie has been very coy when talking about Noel playing this season, mostly saying things about wanting to do what’s best for the young center’s long career. Sixers beat writer Christopher Vito also reported that Noel said that he was “being careful” with his knee and his rehabilitation from the injury.
Though nothing is for certain, it seems like the dots are connecting to form a picture of Noel not playing for the Sixers this season. In all actuality, that wouldn’t be the worst thing, though it would be a bit frustrating for Sixers fans.
Everyone wants to see what Noel can do in the NBA and that’s understandable. He has the potential to be an elite defender and the athleticism to wind up on highlight reels on a regular basis. However, for the Sixers, sitting Noel would ensure that he is 100 percent healthy when he returns for the 2014-2015 season and would help ensure Philly one of the top picks in the 2014 draft.
There’s still the possibility that Noel will return at some point during the upcoming season. By all accounts he has been busting his rear with his rehab to try and get back to full health. However, given the Sixers’ long-term plans, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone if Noel doesn’t touch the floor in a 76ers uniform this season.