Nerlens Noel on Sixers big man rotation: “They need to figure this s— out”

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Nerlens Noel has played in all of two games since missing the first 23 of the season following knee surgery, and already he’s livid about his lack of playing time.

Noel played just 8:02 — all the minutes in the first half — in the Sixers’ sloppy loss Friday night to a Lakers team that had lost eight in a row coming in. Noel came in off the bench and was largely paired with Ersan Ilyasova as the other big, he was never paired with Joel Embiid or Jahlil Okafor.

After the game, Noel ripped his use by coach Brett Brown, via Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I just want to play basketball,” Noel said in response to whether or not he wanted to be paired with another center. “I don’t really care who I’m playing with. I’m not an eight-minute player so I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s— out.”

Brown said that the Lakers started to go small, which forced him to sit big men and match up, leaving Noel glued to the bench for the final 24 minutes. Noel played a little more than 10 minutes in his season debut against Detroit Sunday, until he rolled his ankle and was taken out (he did not play in the next game against Toronto due to that ankle).

Noel has complained before about the crowded Sixers frontcourt and has reportedly pushed to be traded. GM Bryan Colangelo has reportedly shopped him around.

But here’s the thing: Teams aren’t eager to bring in a guy they see as a chemistry problem. A guy with bad body language who complains about his minutes, a man whose work habits they question. Which is exactly what is happening now. Noel is in a tough situation, but he has responded immaturely. Teams see all this, see his complaining, and try to lowball the Sixers on any potential deal. Which makes one less likely to get done. Meaning Noel stays longer in a situation where he’s not happy, which seems to exacerbate the body language and other issues. And now we have a cycle.

At some point, the Sixers are going to move Noel and/or Jahlil Okafor (Noel is a restricted free agent next summer and the Sixers aren’t going to spend much to match in that setting, so they want to make a deal). But Noel isn’t helping the situation any by venting like this. It also doesn’t make Brown want to play him more.

Grizzlies’ James Ennis fouls out then hits half-court shot (video)

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Against the Pacers last night, James Ennis missed all three of his 3-point attempts… that counted. And he makes this one after fouling out?

Mike Conley more than picked up the slack to lead the Grizzlies to victory.

Pelicans’ Dante Cunningham jumps on scorer’s table, Anthony Davis jumps on him (video)

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The Pelicans are effectively out of the playoff race, but Dante Cunningham and Anthony Davis are still competing — even if it looks a little silly.

That tone and a big game from DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) led to a 121-118 win over the Mavericks.

Goran Dragic puts alley-oop pass through rim (video)

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Goran Dragic is very good at alley-oops.

Too good.

With a “shot” like that falling, the Heat trounced the Knicks, 105-88.

Hawks’ Tim Hardaway Jr. kneed in the groin while defending 76ers (video)

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Since trading for him, the Hawks have gotten Tim Hardaway Jr. to buy in defensively.

After this help defense on 76ers center Richaun Holmes cost him dearly, I wouldn’t blame Hardaway if he gave up on the endeavor entirely.