Posted October 21, 2013

Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown admits that Nerlens Noel may not play this season

Brett Brown, Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers, Rob Mahoney
Sixers head coach Brett Brown (right) has his doubts that Nerlens Noel will play this season. (Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown (right) doubts that Nerlens Noel will play this season. (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

Philadelphia might already be resigned to a lost season, but new Sixers head coach Brett Brown was surprisingly frank regarding the availability (or lack thereof) of one of the team’s best young pieces.

Prior to a preseason game against the Cavaliers on Monday, Brown indicated to the attending media – as was first reported by David Zavac of Fear the Sword – that No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel could miss the entire 2013-14 season with injury. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com has Brown’s exact statement:

“I doubt, everybody doubts that he’s going to play this year,” Brown said before the Sixers played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. “We don’t want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it’s an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero.”

On Noel’s side, his agent has denied that any formal decision has been made regarding his client’s status, per Steve Kyler of HOOPSWORLD:

Noel is currently rehabilitating from an ACL tear he suffered in February. Most conventional timetables for recovery would put him back in basketball action by February or March.

Yet with Noel and the Sixers in a position to take the safest route to recovery possible, it’s not surprising to hear that he could miss the entire season. What is a bit unusual is that Brown would admit Noel’s potential season-long absence so early. Team officials are typically mum when asked about players returning from long-term injuries.

Still, Philadelphia has been fairly obvious about its efforts to field a crummy team this season with or without Noel. The team’s best player of last season (Jrue Holiday) was shipped out for Noel and a future first-round pick, with full knowledge that the rookie big man would miss significant time. Despite the departures of Holiday, Andrew Bynum, Dorell Wright, and Nick Young, the Sixers didn’t add any other notable players through trade or free agency — a development which put their total payroll well below the league’s salary floor*. Rookie playmaker Michael Carter-Williams will be entrusted to run the offense, the depth chart is riddled with holes, and veteran guard Jason Richardson could, too, miss the bulk of the season with a knee injury.

Philadelphia will be a terrible team this season — likely the worst in the league. The prospect of Noel missing the entire season is simply an extension of that status quo, and a facilitating factor toward the kind of lowly record that might yield a high draft pick next summer.

*As Mark Deeks noted in a piece for SB Nation, there isn’t any pressing need for Philadelphia to meet the NBA’s minimum salary requirement. The only repercussion is that the Sixers are required to pay the difference between their salary total and the salary floor split amongst their players.

16 comments
KidHorn
KidHorn

Derrick Rose sat out an entire season, so it's not like this is precedence setting.

sunalsorises
sunalsorises

They didn't draft this kid for nothing.  Somebody has to replace Bynum.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

" break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero.”

====================================

You'd think a top pick or ANY pick could shoot, hit free throws but in todays so called game it is about dunks and highlights. ghetto street ball at it's best (or worst)

RearViewMirror3
RearViewMirror3

"might yield a high draft pick next summer"? The 76ers will get Andrew Wiggins, perhaps the next LeBron. But SI has to pretend things might change?

muser
muser

He looks like he has no clue what Coach Brown is talking about in that photo....my guess is he's a Chris Washburn level bust.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

How about using those saved dollars to cut ticket holders a break? LOL, yeah right!

PhilsEagles6ers
PhilsEagles6ers

Good move. He'll be ready for 2014, no need to rush him when you aren't even trying to win games...

Whatever
Whatever

No big surprise here. Draft a center with a massive knee injury -- gee, not exactly the recipe for instant success now, is it Greg Odin?

John4
John4

Wow, "Philadelphia is gonna suck" is NOT a revelation.  Philadelphia always sucks.  It's who they are and the defining part of their identity.  

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@Whatever Spot on, except for everything you got wrong, which is pretty much everything.  An ACL tear is a massive injury?  Seems like plenty of guys in every sport have returned after one of these.   Greg Oden, yes that is how it is spelled, was not injured when he was drafted by Portland.   His string of injuries began after he joined the NBA.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@John4 Once  you get out of high school and enter adulthood, you will realize that acting bitter and miserable, along with yelling about how everything sucks makes you look foolish, not tough.  Until then, enjoy those free and easy school days.

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

@John4 And you sir are allllllllllll class.  Good man that you are.