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Noel working hard but Sixers in no rush to get him on court

Jul 24, 2013, 12:27 PM EDT

Trading Jrue Holliday for Nerlens Noel was not about this season, certainly. Or really the next one. It’s about three years from now, five years from now.

If Philadelphia brought back Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and the rest of the gang the Sixers were a bottom-seed playoff team wining 41 games, give or take. They would be average, with no clear path to improvement through the draft or free agency.

Now the Sixers are going to be bad — but if you are going to be bad this is the year to do it. With Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and others this is a potentially franchise-changing draft. Land one of them, pair him with a healthy Noel in a couple years and maybe you have something special building. That’s the plan.

With that, there is absolutely no rush to get Noel back on the court this season following the ACL injury that ended his season early at Kentucky. At his introductory press conference, Noel said he was working six hours a day to get back and GM Sam Hinkie said the team wanted to take its time. The amazing Dei Lynam was at the presser for and had these quotes and comments.

“I just started doing layups,” Noel said of his current state of rehabilitation. His torn ACL was repaired in mid-February, and his projected timeline to getting back playing basketball looks to be around Christmas time or later.

“I run up and down the court,” Noel continued. “I do Ultra-G for cardio, squatting. I am really just doing a lot of rigorous exercise to build up my core and my hips so that injury prevention is less when I come back because I have stronger muscles around to keep the knees strong. It has been a long five months. I am happy to put in the work and I won’t stop until I am definitely able to come back stronger than before….”

“There will be someone on our staff asking the same question, probably me, every time, if what we care about the most is Nerlens’ long-term health and Nerlens having a 15-year NBA career, what will we do?” Hinkie said. “I will ask that every single time.”

If that means sacrificing some wins this year, so be it. Besides, that just means more ping-pong balls in the lottery. (I know the lottery doesn’t really work that way, but writing “more losses means more randomly generated number combinations” doesn’t really flow.)

It’s not going to be a pretty process for a year or two in Philly, but it’s a solid plan. We’ll see how it works out but there is a plan, even if we don’t have the slightest idea what this team will look like in three years.

  1. ohioteamsusuallysuck - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    I’m a buckeye fan but Philly blew it when they took Evan turner over cousins

    • barkley4life - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      Hindsight 20/20 agreed but Cousins knock was he was a headcase. He lived up to it and if he pulled that in Philly he would be public enemy no.1. The Sixers just unfortunately had a top pick in a mediocre class.

      My biggest hope for the team of course would be Wiggins but in this draft it wont be a bust if they drop out. With how they are building this team Julius Randle would fit perfect alongside Noel. Then if they hit the jackpot outside of top take the best player available at the 2 or the 3. With MCW its not a bad pick if they even took Smart.

      Let Noel sit for as long as possible as he builds his frame. The cries about his weight are crap. If he played the year healthy he would have been around 220 easily at the draft and would have had from March til July to put on weight leading up to draft night. Tyson Chandler was 7-1 220-225 coming into the league. Garnett was 6-11 215. The knee scared teams away because when your bad its hard sell a no.1 pick who doesnt play day 1. However Philly has been mediocre and the city is fine with a rebuild that has DIRECTION.

    • somekat - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      A guy that hasn’t panned out, vs a guy that has the maturity of a 7 year old

      fail either way for a #2 pick, just a bad draft that year

      • sasquash20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        Wait a 19 year can be inmature? Cousins or Favors should have been the pick. I think it is a little early to say that draft was weak. Cousins ever figures it out he will be a absolute beast. Favors will blow up this season and in my opinion may be the best player in that draft when all is said and done. Turner should put up some stats this year. I just hope the Sixers trade him if he does.

      • sasquash20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        19 when drafted. He is still a head case but a very talented big man as well.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      That was one of the weakest drafts in recent years. And I think the debate was mainly Favors or Turner #2 overall.

      • sasquash20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        I disagree. A lot of the early picks are just scrtching the surface of their talent. Cousins, Wall, Favors, George, all coud be very good players very soon. L.Sanders, and G.Monroe should continue to develope into pretty good players as well. I know I’m missing a player or two. Not a great draft but not a bad one either.

  2. chiadam - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    It’s important that he is on the floor getting dunked on just as soon as his knees allow.

    • sasquash20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:23 PM

      Yeah any big 4 or 5 will probably back him down and get an easy basket. Kid weighs 206-210. E.Turner weighed more then that at his draft.

  3. allmyexsliveintexas - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

    Apparently they’re not in any rush to hire a head coach either.

  4. mrwhiteshadez - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    Great article, Kurt. Well done.

  5. somekat - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Sixers Crystal Ball,

    Noel doesn’t play more than 25 games. They will get him some run towards the end of the season to get him used to the NBA game for the future, but this season will be long in the tank by then, and it will take him about half of those games just to get into peak shape

    Michael Curry is named head coach, and gets a 2 year deal. If they get the top pick, Curry gets fired, and they hire a big name coach to try to attract FA’s next year to pair with Noel, Wiggins (if they get him), Carter-Williams, and the pick they got from NO. If they don’t, they let Curry coach the 2nd year, try to bring in a big name coach that can attract players the following year, and repeat the process above

    • arrondior - Jul 29, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Exactly. And I think the goal is to flash some promise in their core by the end of the season so that a big name coach isn’t scared of this rebuild.

  6. barkley4life - Jul 24, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Curry is the reason why they havent gotten a coach yet. Hes the fall back if know one blows them away. Hes already coaching the summer league team and even if they bring in Brown he will more then likely retain Curry.

    No lose situation right now.

  7. phillyphannn83 - Jul 24, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    OK, so as I understand it, our pick from NO is top 5 protected. Does anybody know exactly how that works? is it protected if they finish in the bottom 5 or if their lottery pick is in the top 5?

    • somekat - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:02 PM

      I believe it is after the lottery

  8. phillyphannn83 - Jul 24, 2013 at 4:51 PM

    If the pick this year does wind up being protected, then do we get an unprotected 1st next year?

    • somekat - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:03 PM

      Yes, if they don’t get the pick next year, they will the following yhear regardless

  9. sasquash20 - Jul 24, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Put some weight on Noel!!! Big 4s and 5s will destroy this kid if he doesn’t put some weight on. He makes Bosh look fat

  10. xxakshunxx - Jul 24, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    I thought he said he was gonna wear #5 for the teams that passed on him in the draft?

    • Kurt Helin - Jul 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM

      That’s what he said at first, apparently things changed.

  11. captainwisdom8888 - Jul 24, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    ” Land one of them, pair him with a healthy Noel in a couple years and maybe you have something special building. That’s the plan.”

    You forgot to mention that the Sixers own the Pelicans’ 1st round selection, giving them a chance at landing 2 of next year’s numerous studs. Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Glenn Robinson III, Chris Walker, Marcus Smart, and the list goes on…

  12. herlies - Jul 25, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    “Noel said he was working six hours a day to get back”

    6 hours a day?

    Wow! (lol)

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 26, 2013 at 5:20 AM

      The Sixers of Dr. J, Moses, Billy Cunningham, Mo Cheeks, Andrew Toney…

      I’m 45 yrs old and I don’t think they’ll be like that again in my lifetime…

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