NBA Rumors: Philadelphia 76ers To Trade Nerlens Noel To Celtics, Bulls, Or Suns?

Nerlens Noel appears to be comfortable with the idea of the Philadelphia 76ers trading him to the Boston Celtics. Will the Celtics finally complete a trade for the athletic shot blocker? Will another team beat them to the punch? What is known is that Nerlens Noel does not seem fazed about playing elsewhere.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ forward has been the center of several NBA trade rumors for a couple of months. The 76ers had exploratory trade talks with the Celtics, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, and Phoenix Suns, just to name a few. Every day seemed to create a new NBA rumor with Nerlens Noel headed to a new team. This time, Noel seems to be heading to the Celtics again.

That comes on the heels of a CSN New England report about the Boston Celtics and their renewed interest in Nerlens Noel.

The strength of the A. Sherrod Blakely report comes from a tweet by Noel. In the tweet, the forward praised his hometown of Boston.

Maybe it was the tweet that drew the attention of the Boston Celtics rise once again, or perhaps the interest never wavered. Perhaps the 76ers realize they must do something to break up their logjam of post players.

Nothing is guaranteed to happen between the Celtics and 76ers, but Blakely offered these thoughts.

“A player who wisely suspects that ‘current’ label will become ‘former’ sooner rather than later.

“Noel has not asked for a trade, but multiple league sources told CSNNE.com that he is ‘very open’ to being traded if the Sixers decide to make that decision.”

It is almost a given that the 76ers will trade one of their big men. As Sixers’ general manager Bryan Colangelo pointed out during an interview on Sirius XM NBA Radio (via CSN Philadelphia) that having so many frontcourt players is not an ideal situation.

“So when I say in a playful way I’m not comfortable, I think we can be a better basketball team if we could distribute that talent better, and maybe take one of those assets and address other needs on the roster. But I think right now, it’s best to say we like all of them, we want to see if we can make the most out of each of them in terms of their contributions to this team. But at the end of the day, the reality says probably one has to go at some point, but only if the deal is right.”

Which 76ers’ player is going and where will they go is a question everyone wants to know.

Because Nerlens Noel can fetch the best return for the 76ers most NBA observers believe that it will be him. Taking a closer look at the Sixers’ roster offers a different observation.

Ben Simmons, who was the top overall pick in the draft this year, is a power forward in terms of size and ability to rebound. His skills will not be on full display with the basketball in his hands, which is what the 76ers plan to do with him. Having the ball a lot will take him away from much of the defensive and hustle play duties. Someone else must be trusted to do the dirty work.

Nerlens Noel, at this stage, is a good complimentary player. He is not the star that gets a team over the top, but the anchor of the defense for a winning team. If Noel is traded to the Celtics, who plays defense? Who protects the rim?

Simmons has the tools to do it, but his offense is more important. Joel Embiid can be that type of defender if he shows no signs of slippage in his game after two disastrous foot injuries. Is Embiid a plodder? No one knows. He has not played in an NBA game yet.

Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid (wearing No. 21) can become a solid defender, but with the current logjam the Philadelphia have, will he get the opportunity to play. [Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty images]

The player who the 76ers get back in return from must be a point guard.

Examining the 76ers roster closely, the biggest hole is at point guard. Only T.J. McConnell is listed at the position. It was once rumored by the Sixer Sense that the 76ers would dangle Nerlens Noel to the Phoenix Suns for guard Brandon Knight.

Another possible trade partner the 76ers could have is the Chicago Bulls.

A deal between the 76ers and Bulls would not be for Nerlens Noel, but for center Jahlil Okafor. Trading Okafor makes more sense for the 76ers than moving Noel.

For the aforementioned reasons of defense and hustle plays, the 76ers actually need Noel. The 76ers are interested in dealing primarily because he has the most trade value. The 76ers do not want to give a frontcourt player away, but they must be careful. Instead trying to win a trade, the 76ers should make a deal that will help them win.

Jahlil Okafor
Given how the Philadelphia 76ers' roster is constructed, Jahlil Okafor should be the player that gets traded. The problem is that Nerlens Noel can get the 76ers a greater return. [Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]

Simmons and Noel can play together as an inside and outside duo. Because he is up for an extension in two seasons, Joel Embiid must play. Exactly where does Jahlil Okafor fit in the 76ers’ plans?

Okafor is the player whom the 76ers need to deal either to the Celtics, Bulls or Suns.

The NBA Summer League play of Bulls’ guard Jerian Grant could factor in here if the 76ers rekindle their talks with Chicago. Grant is a point who lead a young team as he grows into a solid pro. He is an ideal player for the 76ers. A trade between the 76ers and Bulls that would work would be Jahlil Okafor for Jerian Grant and next year’s first-round pick and a future pick.

If the 76ers are intent on trading Nerlens Noel instead and want to make something happen with the Boston Celtics, getting back Avery Bradley and a first-round pick is a strong deal.

The last trade possibility would be between the 76ers and Suns. That trade could be a straight deal of Nerlens Noel for Brandon Knight.

No matter how many trade proposals get thrown out there in the NBA rumor mill, the 76ers will make one deal come to fruition. If they truly want to shake up their frontcourt and capitalize on their talent, the Philadelphia 76ers will move both Noel and Okafor.

Who should the Philadelphia 76ers trade to lessen their frontcourt logjam?

[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]