Sam Hinkie, Nerlens Noel

Report: Nerlens Noel cleared for basketball activity, could play for Sixers after All-Star break

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Despite earlier reports the team might have him sit out the season, it looks as if the Sixers could get Nerlens Noel on the court after the All-Star break.

The Philadelphia rookie — picked up in a draft night trade sending Jrue Holiday to New Orleans — has been cleared for basketball activity, reports Jeff Goodman at ESPN.

Philadelphia 76ers rookie center Nerlens Noel has been given the go-ahead by Dr. James Andrews to resume basketball-related activities and could be ready to take the court shortly after the All-Star break, sources told ESPN.com….

“He is doing excellent, and the team is taking good care of him,” Andrews told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Andrews said he was unable to provide more information because of privacy laws, but sources told ESPN.com that Noel, the No. 6 pick in this past June’s NBA draft, could return to game action within the next four to six weeks barring a setback.

While he has been cleared he’s still not close to stepping on the court and Sixers coach Brett Brown would not play the timeline game, reports John Gonzalez at CSNPhilly.com.

“When it does become real, we’ll be more than transparent with his progress and his timeline,” Brown said. “There’s nothing clandestine going on. There’s no conspiracy theories flying around. It’s very clear that he’s moving forward. But timelines and that type of timeline, we don’t see it like that….

“There are some things that have been lifted, in relation to only being able to shoot one-handed with him, but there are so many different layers to this,” Brown said. “To get all excited now about a timeline that has been put out would be not a wise thing to do. He’s got to tick a lot more boxes. He’s progressing well. But there really isn’t a definitive timeline.”

Noel was considered a potential — even likely — No. 1 overall pick a year ago, until on a fall he tore his ACL. The injury led to him falling to No. 6 in the draft, where the Pelicans took him and soon traded him.

Noel has incredible athleticism and was seen as a guy who can help out quickly on the defensive end as a shot blocker but would take time to develop on the offensive end. During his rehab, the Sixers took pains to rebuild his entire shot to help speed that process along. That said, you should see him have some success using his athleticism to get up the court in transition as the Sixers play at the fastest pace in the NBA.

Noel and leading Rookie of the Year candidate Michael Carter-Williams could form a key part of the future in Sixers. This is a franchise not looking to win games this season, end up high in the lottery and from this deep draft add another quality player to the mix.

Report: Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio ‘strong favorite’ to replace Anderson Varejao on Brazilian Olympic team

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on February 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 116-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.

Where will Team Brazil turn now?

Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.

At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.

If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.

Report: Equipment staffer punched by Blake Griffin no longer works for Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stands on the court as equipment manager Matias Testi, left, stands behind the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. Griffin broke his hand last month when he punched Testi in the face. The Clippers won 105-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.

Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.

TMZ:

The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.

We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”

#Family

Writer recants report of Kevin Durant telling Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with Thunder

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 03:  Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talk to head coach Billy Donovan during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 3, 2016 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The report that Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder before choosing the Warriors?

Never mind.

Royce Young of ESPN:

I misspoke in saying that Durant specifically told Westbrook he was coming back.

Warriors/Brazil center Anderson Varejao to miss Olympics with back injury

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Dan Clark #13 of Great Britain shoots over Anderson Varejao #11 of Brazil in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Center Anderson Varejao will miss the Olympics for host Brazil because of a herniated disc in his lower back.

The Golden State Warriors announced the injury Wednesday and say that Varejao should be ready for the start of training camp but will not be healthy enough to play in the Olympics. Varejao recently experienced back pain while training with the Brazilian National Team and returned to California to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins earlier this week.

Varejao averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 22 games after signing with the Warriors on Feb. 22. He re-signed with the team earlier this month.