The Nerlens Noel situation, with the well-documented logjam in the front court for the Philadelphia 76ers, has not been handled well. Both head coach Brett Brown and General Manager Bryan Colangelo need to find a solution as soon as possible.
With his rookie contract set to expire this upcoming offseason, Noel will look elsewhere if the current rotation keeps him on the bench.
Thus, the 76ers front office must find a viable trade to send Noel to another team in order to get something in return. However, the current rotation would yield futile assets.
Fixing the Rotation
Brett Brown has received just praise for developing and sticking with this roster with unprecedented turnover. However, his current rotation needs tweaking. Despite the small sample size given with starting Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, this combination does not match up well against other teams.
Noel as a Starter
Now that Noel has some games under his belt after returning from injury, Brown needs to start him with Embiid. The high-energy and around the rim finishing that Noel provides would balance well with Embiid’s deft shooting touch.
The balance on the offensive end of the court would not be the players’ biggest strength, as their combined defensive prowess could solidify their inside presence.
“He’s my best friend on the team,” Embiid said of his relationship with Noel. “Because I have some type of relationship with him, I think I’m going to get him going, especially on the defensive end. Being aggressive, blitzing every pick and roll, just flying all over the place, I think we can really do that while we’re on the court,” The Process said to reporters.
Their relationship surely would give them more chemistry that Okafor brings to the starting lineup. The former Duke champion’s biggest strength is his low post offense, yet the offense does not run through him when he is on the court with Embiid. His scoring touch can bring a much-needed presence to the second unit. Both Dario Saric and Ersan Ilyasova complement Okafor well on the second unit with a savvy inside-out front court game. In addition, 3-point-shooters like Nik Stauskas and Hollis Thompson can capitalize on open shots off the ball movement originating from focus on Jahlil Okafor.
Brown must find the right combinations of this loaded front court roster in order to give Noel the minutes he deserves. Giving him this extra play time will only bolster his trade value, allowing the Sixers to receive more valuable assets in return.
The Best Possible Trade
With Clint Capela’s recent injury, the Houston Rockets have no viable centers. Noel would be the perfect fit to fill this void. He would complement the surrounding three point shooters around him similar to Tristan Thompson on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Houston’s need for a center matches Philadelphia’s need to off-load one of our centers. This is the perfect situation for Noel, and 76ers, and Rockets. In return, the Rockets would send the 76ers their backup point guard Patrick Beverley, who would be an improvement on Sergio Rodriguez and T.J. McConnell. His defensive cover would finally enable the Sixers to compete against the top point guards of the league. Additionally, Beverly makes the open three far more consistently than their current points, a much-needed attribute with the likes of Ben Simmons scheduled to debut next month.
Why it Makes Sense
Beverly’s 6 million per year contract over the next three years makes him a decent match for Noel’s 4.3 million contract that ends this summer. Noel will make Houston more of a contender once he gets back to the form of last season. Meanwhile, Beverly will make Philadelphia more competitive with his veteran and defensive expertise.
With the current amount of front court players that Philadelphia’s roster has, there is simply not enough minutes to go around. Joel “The Process” Embiid seems to be the future centerpiece along with Ben Simmons, meaning that either Okafor or Noel must be dealt. Noel had much more trade value until he started speaking out about his playing time along with his impending contract expiry, as well as Okafor starting to play defense. However, this Noel-for-Beverly trade simply makes the most sense as it will make both teams much better.
DALLAS, TX – NOVEMBER 13: Nerlens Noel (4) of the Philadelphia 76ers is in action against Dirk Nowitzki (41) of Dallas Mavericks during the NBA basketball match between Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas on November 13, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)