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Report: Potential trade partners getting negative feedback when researching Nerlens Noel

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Nerlens Noel reportedly wants the 76ers to trade him. They want to trade at least one of Noel or Jahlil Okafor. (Presumably, Joel Embiid is now off the table.)

Why hasn’t a deal happened yet?

Adrian Wojnarowski on The Vertical Podcast with Woj:

Nerlens Noel in Philly, the research teams have done on him is not good. They don’t get good reports back on their intel, how he’s carried himself there, of his habits. It’s not a great return. So, there are teams willing to do deal and bring him in, but they don’t want to give up much.

Noel reportedly racked up about $25,000 in fines for repeated tardiness and other offenses as a rookie. Earlier this year, he publicly criticized Philadelphia’s roster makeup, and after general manager Bryan Colangelo pushed back, Noel doubled down.

What does that tell us? Noel hasn’t always handled a difficult situation well.

He sat out his entire first professional season, which had to test him. In that time, the 76ers developed what Colangelo admitted was a losing culture.

The big question: How would Noel react to a new environment?

Any team that trades for him will have a less-crowded center situation. Every team has been more committed to winning the last few years than Philadelphia.

Maybe Noel is part of the problem, and he’d infect a new team. Maybe Noel is a victim of Sam Hinkie’s unprecedented tanking plan.

The truth is probably somewhere in between. My money is on the latter being closer to accurate, though it’s quite possible Noel has developed bad habits with the 76ers that could be difficult to reverse.

I don’t blame teams for being reluctant to trade for him. Noel will head into restricted free agency next summer, and he could be in line for a big contract. That’s a dangerous commitment for a player with an unproven-at-best, shaky-at-worst reputation.

If Noel wants out of Philadelphia, he should heed Brett Brown’s advice: keep his head down and focus on his on-court strengths. Then, hope other teams notice.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.