Nerlens Noel could potentially don a Sixers uniform this season. Then again, he could also sit out the season.
The Sixers acquired the former University of Kentucky standout in a draft night trade in June despite the fact that Noel had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while playing for the Wildcats in mid-February.
ESPN.com reported Wednesday that Dr. James Andrews has cleared Noel to resume basketball-related activities and possibly return to the court after the All-Star break.
Before Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia coach Brett Brown basically told everyone to hold on.
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Nothing is finalized just yet.
“There’s a collection of people who will be involved in the decision,” Brown said. “There are some things that have been lifted in relation to being only to shoot one-handed with him. But there are so many different layers to this. To get all excited now about a timeline put out would not be a wise thing to do. He’s got to tick a lot more boxes. He’s progressing well. But there really is not a definitive timeline.”
Acquiring Noel was clearly a step toward the future. All along, it was believed that he would be sidelined for most, if not all, of the 2013-14 season. Especially since the Sixers are in a rebuilding mode.
Noel played just 24 games for the Wildcats, but was still named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. The 19-year-old has a promising career ahead and the Sixers don’t want to damage anything by rushing him back.
“We’re not just going to recklessly put him on a stage and expect results,” Brown said. “As it plays out, if it’s possible, we’ll put him on the court.”
Noel has been working vigorously with Brown before games. Noel is also working extremely hard in the weight room.
He’ll keep doing that until all parties involved believe he’s ready.
When would that be?
“I really don’t know,” Brown said. “It’s like he’s ticking boxes at a rate that we had hoped. He’s moving there, but to project anything or to guess anything, it’s all I’ll be doing to take a wild-shot guess. We’ll keep everybody in the loop and keep it wide open. At this stage, it’s only really fair to say he’s doing well.”