After spending three dismal seasons with the 76ers, it seems he wants out.
Noel has yet to appear in a game this season after electing to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery last month, but word is he’d still prefer to be shipped to a new address with so many big men to battle for playing time in Philly. Count on the Sixers to accommodate him eventually.
The 76ers know their big-man situation is untenable, and it’ll only get more difficult to manage when No. 1 pick Ben Simmons returns. A power forward, Simmons will reduce opportunities to play two-center lineups.
But Philadelphia would prefer to handle this quietly. That’s why Bryan Colangelo rejected Noel’s standing to complain publicly and Brett Brown is urging Noel to play to his strengths. The 76ers want to maximize Noel’s trade value.
They reportedly previously preferred to trade Okafor – Embiid has looked like a potential franchise player, not a player to move – but Noel’s value might be higher than Okafor’s. The return matters greatly in determining which player to deal.
So does a player’s desire to stay, especially when he’ll be a free agent next summer. Philadelphia’s easiest move might just be appeasing Noel and clearing its logjam. Determining whether or not to match an offer sheet for him in restricted free agency won’t be pretty.
Noel trade rumors have percolated even before his season debut. Once he gets back on the court, expect them to only intensify.