NBA Trade Rumors: Could 76ers’ Nerlens Noel Be Traded To The Celtics?

While February’s NBA trade deadline for the 2016-2017 season is still a few months away, rumors are already swirling around Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel. The 76ers young big man has been involved in numerous trade rumors over the past year, but it has become apparent that there may be no place for him on a team that is already stacked with big men. At only 22-years-old, Noel has not yet reached his potential, and that may never happen if he remains with a team that will only be able to offer him limited minutes.

As New England Sports Network reports, Noel is not happy with his role with the 76ers. With Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid in the mix, Noel appears to be the odd man out for a team that just does not have enough extra minutes for another big man. All of the 76ers’ centers have had injury problems, and Noel is no exception. He has finally been cleared to return to action, but he is on a minutes restriction.

Despite Embiid and Okafor on similar restrictions, Noel is unhappy with how the organization is handling his return.

“I just want to play basketball. I don’t really care who I’m playing with. I’m not an eight-minute player, so I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s— out.”

While Noel’s minutes are going to go up as he plays more games over the next few weeks, it still may not be to his liking. Embiid and Ben Simmons appear to be the cornerstone of the 76ers’ franchise, and Okafor is a special player on the offensive end. While Noel’s defense far exceeds Okafor’s at the present moment, defense is easier to improve on than scoring. Noel has improved since entering the league, but his ceiling appears to be limited. He has the ability to anchor a defense, but he is just not going to provide a lot with regards to scoring the basketball.

Noel has been linked to the Boston Celtics in the past, but nothing was ever finalized. The franchise has long been rumored to covet Noel, and he would be a solid fit for a young team that is only getting better. While Noel has been publicly complaining about his situation with the 76ers, it is apparently not scaring the Celtics off. An assistant GM told Comcast SportsNet New England that Noel’s complains are justified, and the situation in Philadelphia is just not going to work.

“I never like to hear that stuff, guys complaining about minutes publicly. But Philadelphia…they have too many bigs and they’re trying to make it work but you know and I know and Nerlens knows, somebody is going to get the short end of things when it comes to minutes. And Nerlens doesn’t want to be that guy.”

Comcast SportsNet New England also notes that Noel is a Massachusetts native, but that is not factoring into the Celtic’s interest. In 67 games last year, Noel averaged 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. In 75 games during the 2014-2015 season, he averaged 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. Noel’s greatest strength is in protecting the rim, but he puts up solid numbers all around.

If the Celtics do decide to pursue Noel before February’s deadline, it is unknown what they will be willing to offer. While the 76ers have an abundance of big men, they were still reluctant to part with Noel before last year’s draft. Regardless of their reluctance, Noel’s attitude could force their hand. While the 76ers are not just going to give him away, they have to do everything possible to improve their play at the guard position. Whether that means a trade for a draft pick with the Celtics or a player remains to be seen, but talks could heat up as the weeks go by.

[Featured Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images]

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