The Philadelphia 76ers have quite a logjam in the frontcourt, a result of drafting and trading for three quality bigs in three consecutive drafts. Due to Embiid's injury coming into the season, as well as Nerlens Noel's own knee issues, the three have not been healthy all at once. However, with Noel rehabbing a knee injury and looking to return to action soon, that will change.
The Sixers have Embiid, Okafor, Noel and Dario Saric, all fighting for minutes in the frontcourt. Furthermore, one could argue the first three of the aforementioned are starting-caliber players. There simply aren't enough minutes to go around and the Sixers should have traded someone by now. Coming into the season, the vibe was that either Okafor or Noel would end up in another jersey by the end of the season.
The initial belief was that Jahlil Okafor was the odd man out. Okafor had a solid rookie year before having a mess of a sophomore year, both on and off the court. Despite taking to Twitter and dispelling trade rumors, a source close to the situation informed Hoops Inq. that Okafor was still discontent with his situation in Philly. However, no traction was ever made because Philadelphia was asking for more than teams were willing to give up. Still, the logjam remained and Noel became worried.
Nerlens Noel has not been happy with how the organization has handled their frontcourt mess. More importantly, Noel was very vocal about it with the media before the season began. The Hoops Inquirer learned that if a contract extension was not reached with Noel, he would certainly be traded. The 76ers never reached such an agreement with Noel and he's now on the trading block.
Among the teams interested in acquiring Noel, as first reported by ESPN's Marc Stein, are the Toronto Raptors. This isn't the first time they've expressed interest in Noel, as summer rumors had the two talking about a deal revolving around Noel and Terrence Ross. Despite Stein's report, the Raptors have not yet engaged in talks for the big man. A Hoops Inq. source has informed us that in such a scenario, the 76ers are interested in acquiring Cory Joseph and a first-round pick in return. However, the Raptors are being patient with their own young bigs.
Cory Joseph would help fill the massive void the 76ers have in their backcourt until Ben Simmons returns, while shipping Noel away helps unclog the mess they have in the frontcourt. It all checks out for Philly. On the other side, the Raptors get the guy they've wanted since the summer and add depth in the frontcourt. Jonas Valanciunas has been dealing with a knee issue and has been day-to-day and Jared Sullinger may not return to action until January with a foot injury.
However, Nerlens Noel himself has yet to make his season debut after undergoing knee surgery in the preseason. I'm told no such trade will happen until he's fully healthy, so the 76ers still have time to explore their options. But the odds of
Papa Noel seeing Christmas in Philadelphia are low.
Update: November 14th, 2016
With both sides seeing no traction, talks between the Raptors and Sixers have died out. Nerlens Noel, however, will continue to be shopped.
Update: December 7th, 2016
A source close to the situation has informed that initial talks have commenced around a potential package surrounding a Brandon Knight and Nerlens Noel deal. The Suns heavily lack interior defense and the 76ers continue their search for backcourt help. Noel is progressing well, currently rehabbing in Delaware with the team's D-League affiliate.
Update: January 15th, 2017
The latest talks involve the Portland Trail Blazers, given their lack of interior defense. However, no traction has been made since Philly desires perimeter help. Slowing things down and changing the landscape of things is Nerlens Noel's play. He's excelled in his role as the back-up center and it is now Jahlil Okafor finding himself out of the rotation. What Philadelphia plans to do remains to be seen.