Before the Sixers’ season even started, Nerlens Noel understood that there were too many large dudes in Philly and too few good ideas about what to do with them. But because Noel has been recovering from knee surgery, it was only last Friday that the Sixers had to confront this nauseating truth head-on, as they finally played their trio of true centers in the same game. The initial results were bleak. Joel Embiid, maybe the most promising of the bunch, got awkwardly shifted to power forward to make room for Jahlil Okafor, and Noel played an uneventful eight minutes, letting let some of his dissatisfaction spill out into public view: “I mean, I’m too good to be playing eight minutes ... that’s crazy, that’s crazy, that’s crazy. Need to figure that shit out. Fuck it,” he told reporters after a 100-89 loss to the Lakers.
Then on Sunday coach Brett Brown kept Noel on the bench for an entire game against the Nets, and despite his insistence that the DNP had nothing to do with Noel’s outburst, it was hard to interpret that move any other way, and harder still to envision Noel somehow gliding into a productive future with the team. Today, president and GM Bryan Colangelo did a bit of damage control, urging people not to read too much into Brown’s decision, and arguing that his coach was just frustrated and tinkering with the roster:
The 7-20 Sixers have settled next to Mavericks at the very bottom of the league, and look unlikely to rise out of the muck Hinkie made for them until they clear out their clusterfuck at the 5. But it doesn’t sound like they’ve had many promising trade prospects yet, and Colangelo today suggested that he didn’t want to rush into anything, so Noel might be stuck resentfully biding his time for a while. Not too long ago, he was the team’s defensive anchor, the only thing worth salvaging in a roster full of dreck; now, he seems a trade away from getting to escape all the dysfunction in Philly.