76ers coach Brett Brown has indicated
that it might be a longshot for rookie center Nerlens Noel to make it onto the
floor this season.
Brown made that statement
Monday night in Columbus, Ohio, before the Sixers played the host Cleveland
Cavaliers in a preseason game on the campus of Ohio State University.
“I doubt, everybody doubts
(Noel) is going to play this year,” Brown told reporters Monday.
Brown went on to say that Noel
has shown improvement in his rehab, but added that progress been “slow.”
This is the first instance
that Brown has ever hinted of Noel’s injury causing him to miss his entire
rookie season. Noel has been traveling with the Sixers while rehabbing a torn
anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury he sustained last
February in a game at Kentucky, where he played one season.
The Sixers had intimated all
along that Noel’s debut with the team seemed most likely in 2014, possibly as
early as January, but had never assigned a timetable for the 6-11, 230-pound
If anything, the Sixers’
decision to preserve Noel until he’s fully healed shouldn’t be viewed as a
setback. It was always assumed that the
Sixers, who are in a rebuilding phase with a new coach, a new general manager
and plenty of new faces on the roster, felt no rush in grooming Noel for on-court
time in the regular season.
Still, Noel has looked strong
and assertive on his feet following recent practices, working almost
exclusively with assistant coach Greg Foster. In the post-practice shooting
sessions, he’s taken low-post jumpers, field goals in the lane and worked on
his free-throw shooting with Foster.
The Sixers traded for Noel on
the night of the NBA draft, sending All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to New
Orleans in exchange for the draft rights for the 19-year-old Noel, taken sixth
overall by the Pelicans, and a 2014 lottery-protected, first-round pick.
Last month at the team’s media
day proceedings, Noel categorized the status of his knee as “improving.” He had
said he expected to play this season. In the interim, Noel said he was using
his rehab time as a means of better getting to know his new teammates and
learning the ropes of the NBA.
“I prepared myself. I’m
staying focused with everything,” Noel said at the time. “Although I won’t be
playing (in the preseason), I’m a student of the game and I’m seeing how
certain players play and their tendencies. I’m doing the job. Even though I’m
not playing, I’m learning.”
Should Noel miss the 2013-14
season, he would represent the second big man in two years to have sat out an
entire season with the Sixers. Andrew Bynum, the 7-footer acquired by trade in
the 2012 offseason, did not play a single game while battling recurring knee
injuries. Bynum this summer signed a two-year contract with Cleveland, the Sixers’
opponent Monday, but he’s yet to debut for the Cavaliers.
Labels: Andrew Bynum, Brett Brown, Greg Foster, injury report, Jrue Holiday, Nerlens Noel