The Philadelphia 76ers don't expect Nerlens Noel to play this season, Coach Brett Brown said Monday before the team's pre-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I doubt — everybody doubts — that he's going to play this year," Brown said. "We don't want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it's an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero."
Originally, the Sixers expected the former University of Kentucky star, who injured his knee during his only season with the Cats, to be able to play sometime in middle of his rookie season.
Brown said Noel's rehabilitation has been "going slow."
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"I like the fact that he is with us every single day and every single way," Brown said. "He's in video sessions, practice, shootarounds. It's a classroom. It's an opportunity for him to learn from me and the NBA."
While Brown didn't fully commit to Noel sitting out the whole season, he said that's the team's plan for now.
"He needs to be nurtured this year." Brown said, according to Fox Sports Ohio. "I think we've grabbed the thing and put him on a road map that's good for him, and good for the program."
While Noel wasn't available for comment, his agent, Andy Miller, told USA Today that there have been no setbacks with Noel's rehab.
"We're taking his therapy one day at a time," Miller said. "There have been no decisions made at this time. He has been doing his rehab vigorously."
Noel was the sixth overall pick in the NBA Draft last June. Originally selected by the New Orleans Pelicans, he was sent to Philadelphia on a draft-night deal along with a 2014 first round pick for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday.
"My advice to him is don't rush," said Sixers guard Tony Wroten, who suffered the same injury as a junior in high school. "I know he wants to play. He's never been on an NBA court ... but he's got to wait till the time is right. It's an ACL, not a sprained ankle. It's the real deal."
Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals per game in his only season in Lexington and was considered a candidate for the top overall pick before suffering his knee injury.