76ers' Brown: Finding minutes for Noel will be difficult
It was always going to be an issue finding minutes for all three of Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor - something new Philadelphia 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo even acknowledged over the offseason.
Noel, who's yet to play during the 2016-17 regular season after undergoing left knee surgery, is expected back in the coming weeks. At this point, however, head coach Brett Brown isn't exactly sure how Noel will integrate into the rotation, which already includes a number of big men.
"It's going to be hard," Brown said, according to the Courier Times' Tom Moore. "You can talk about maybe playing two of them together (Noel-Embiid-Okafor) to free things up. None of us can underestimate that we have pretty good 'four' men in Dario (Saric) and Ersan (Ilyasova). It's not like we just bump people down. It's on me as the head coach to figure it out."
Even when Noel is cleared to compete, Brown won't simply throw his lanky defensive big to the wolves and expect all to be right with his game. Taking a page out of Sam Hinkie's book, it'll be a process with Noel, in terms of finding the best possible fit on the floor.
"The first step will be to integrate him back into the team and then get him running and playing and learning what we're doing, and try to be able to deliver him to the court where he feels confident and prepared and has a chance to do well," Brown said. "I don't want to bring him back if he's not ready and let him embarrass himself."
While Noel's name has been bantered about in a number of trade rumors, Brown is working under the mindset that the 22-year-old is going to be sticking around for a while.
"The intention is to welcome him back. Everybody needs to hear that," Brown added.
Should Noel survive the season, he'll become a restricted free agent next summer, if the Sixers tender him a $5.85-million qualifying offer.