It’s a big week of change for big men from the University of Kentucky.
Four days after a blockbuster trade merged former Cats DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis in New Orleans, ex-UK standout Nerlens Noel was dealt by the Philadelphia 76ers hours before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
The Sixers traded the 6-foot-11 Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a first-round draft pick, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
In a way, Noel got his wish. Before this season began, Noel all but demanded a trade, predicting Philadelphia’s glut of centers — which also included Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor — would become a problem.
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“I don’t see a way of it working,” Noel told the Associated Press. “It’s just a logjam.
“You’ve got three talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night and three centers can’t play 30 minutes a night. That’s that. Things need to be situated,” Noel continued. “Obviously, somebody’s got to be moved around.”
Noel, 22, has battled injuries dating back to his college days at Kentucky, when he tore the ACL in his left knee midway through his only UK season in 2012-13. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by New Orleans and was immediately traded to Philadelphia, where he sat out the 2013-14 season recovering from knee surgery.
Noel averaged 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in his first two seasons in Philadelphia while watching the Sixers go 18-64 as a rookie and 10-72 last season. He missed the first six weeks this season after surgery to alleviate soreness in his left knee. In 29 games, he is averaging 8.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks in 19.4 minutes per game this season.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki talked to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the team’s addition of Noel.
“He’s an athletic big, he’s young, he’s got a lot of potential,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s a rim protector and he’s long and he can finish around the rim.”
Embiid said he’ll miss Noel, but that he thinks the move will benefit him.
“I mean, here (with the Sixers) it was kind of hard for him to start unless they were starting us together,’’ Embiid said. “He is going to get a chance to go to Dallas and start and play the game that he loves.
“I think in Dallas, he is going to get the chance to restart. I think they are going re-sign him, and I think they are going to pay him a lot of money.’’