What’s old is new again: Nerlens Noel return to 76ers?

Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Reading the tea leaves, it appears Nerlens Noel could be making a return to the Philadelphia 76ers. That would reunite, sort, of the Process frontline of Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Noel.

It does not take an inside source like ‘Woj’ or ‘Shams’ to figure out there is a good chance that center Nerlens Noel might be returning to the team that drafted him: the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Sixers need a true backup center to Joel Embiid. Using 6-foot-8 Montrezl Harrell and the 6-9 ‘BBall Paul’ Reed probably will not cut it in the playoffs.

However, general manager Daryl Morey made no move to acquire one at the trade deadline. Jalen McDaniels is 6-9, but he only weighs 204, so he is in no way a center.

One trade made at the deadline was the Detroit Pistons acquiring center James Wiseman from the Golden State Warriors. This move has not gone over well, at all, in Detroit, but that is not the Sixers problem.

The addition of WIseman, the oft-injured No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, give the Pistons four young big men: Philly native Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III (another underperforming No. 2 pick) and now Wiseman.

That leaves Noel, 28, who came to Detroit in a salary dump trade with the Knicks, as the 5th-string center. Since Detroit is basically running out the string this season, no point in playing Noel over the kids.

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Interestingly, Noel is listed as ‘Not with team’ on the latest injury report. No reason physically for the 6-foot-10 former No. 6 overall pick in the draft by Sam Hinkie, so something is obviously up.

A buyout seems almost a certainty for Noel. Detroit has no need for him, and no point in him sitting on the bench for team looking to lose a lot of games.

So what team needs a defensive-oriented center like Noel? Hmmm, might be one playing at Broad & Pattison.

There are certainly other NBA teams in the market for a backup big man, so the Sixers will have some competition for Noel’s services (Yes, really). But they might have an inside track, being a team seen as a title contender and him being familiar with the organization.

The debate about whether signing Noel will help the team in its title hopes is for another time, when the move is definite, but all signs point to Nerlens Noel coming back to where his NBA career started.

It appears his former teammate Embiid would not mind a reunion:

With the recent trade to brought Jahlil Okafor to the 76ers’ G League team, the Delaware Blue Coats, the first three top draft picks of the ‘Process’ general manager Sam Hinkie would be back with the Sixers organization.

So prepare yourself with the 76ers going ‘Back to the Future’ with the return of Nerlens Noel. Would be kind of a kick, honestly, if all three early ‘Process’ big men helping the Sixers win a title.

Hey, Hinkie said they would win if they followed the process. maybe, in the end he could be right.