Was it clarification or damage control?
On Sunday evening, Philadelphia 76ers Coach Brett Brown said former University of Kentucky star Nerlens Noel was out of the team’s rotation for the foreseeable future. Then around 1 p.m. Monday, team president Bryan Colangelo kind of retreated from those statements.
“This is not a benching,” Colangelo told The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. “This is just a moment of realization that we got a lot of talent on this team. Not everybody can play. At some point, you will see him on the court.”
Noel made his season debut on Dec. 11, but an injury ankle kept him out of the team’s next game on Dec. 14. He played eight mijnutes Dec. 16 before logging his first “DNP-Coach’s Decision” on Sunday.
“He is a young talented prospect we are trying to determine whether or not he’s a fit for this roster,” Colangelo said, according to the Inquirer. “And further I would say given that he’s been unavailable for any sort of evaluation throughout the summer, unavailable early in the season because of a surgical procedure and made available for really the first time, it’s like starting at ground zero in respect to his opportunity to break in as we speak.”
Monday’s scheduled practice was canceled. Instead, a few Sixers were on the court performing what the public relations department called individualized workouts with assistant coaches. Afterward, Noel and Brown had a conversation in the gym. Brown and none of his players were made available since it wasn’t an official practice.
“In this particular situation, it does hurt Nerlens,” Brown said Sunday. “But in other situations, it hurts [center] Joel [Embiid], it hurts [power forward] Ersan [Ilyasova], it hurts [power forward] Dario [Saric]. So the ripple effects are real.”
Brown said it was the organization’s decision. He said people in the organization talk freely with Colangelo, his staff and the owners.
But Colangelo did his best to try to make it seem like Brown’s comments Sunday were taken a little out of context. The coach said there was a logjam at the center position with Noel, Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes. He also said the team would play Embiid and Okafor at the center spot for the time being.
“At some point, you will see him on the court,” Colangelo said of Noel. “When that is, it doesn’t need to be black and white in respect to timing and a number of games. Everything changes. Every day presents something different to this team.”