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.