NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Sixers plan to rest Noel all season — Rookie big man Nerlens Noel was acquired by the Sixers in a post-Draft trade and is thought to be the centerpiece of the rebuild going on in Philadelphia. There was hope that Noel might play this season — perhaps as soon as Christmastime — but Sixers fans may want to forget about that. According to Sam Amico of FoxSportsOhio.com and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, coach Brett Brown (who was excellently profiled by our own David Aldridge yesterday) isn’t planning on using Noel at all in 2013-14.
First, from Amico:
Brett Brown cleared up the situation regarding highly touted rookie Nerlens Noel, and fans of the Philadelphia 76ers probably aren’t going to like it.
Brown, in his first season as Sixers coach, said Noel is likely to miss his entire first NBA season as the result of a torn ACL suffered while Noel was a freshman at the University of Kentucky.
Brown dropped the news prior to the Sixers’ preseason game Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers on the campus of Ohio State University.
“We don’t want to waste this year,” Brown said of the Sixers’ strategy with Noel. “I think, from all perspectives, it’s an opportunity to break down his shot, really work on his free throws, and start a bit from ground zero. He’s bought in and been great.”
Now, Brown said, Noel is likely to be held out for the sake of learning in the film room and from the bench.
“He needs to be nurtured this year.” Brown said. “I think we’ve grabbed the thing and put him on a road map that’s good for him, and good for the program.”
And from Windhorst:
The Philadelphia 76ers are now expecting to hold first-round draft pick Nerlens Noel out for the entire upcoming season as he recovers from knee surgery, coach Brett Brown said Monday.
“I doubt, everybody doubts that he’s going to play this year,” Brown said before the Sixers played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. “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.”
It was not originally the Sixers’ plan to sit Noel — the No. 7 overall pick, who had surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee in March — for the entire season. He suffered the injury Feb. 12 while playing for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The timetable for Noel’s recovery was initially set for six to eight months, which was expected to allow him to return sometime in the middle of his rookie season.
Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, told ESPN in June that Noel was ahead of schedule.
“We’re really happy with his progress,” Andrews said at the time. “He’s several weeks ahead of schedule on his rehab. He’s improving on a weekly basis. He has a completely stable knee.”
No. 2: Westbrook briefly participates in practice — Earlier this month, the Thunder’s All-Star point guard, Russell Westbrook, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The projection at the time was that Westbrook would need 4-6 weeks to recover, meaning his return to OKC’s lineup wouldn’t be until sometime in December. But Westbrook might be healing up faster than most thought as he participated in parts of Monday’s practice with the team, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:
For the first time since training camp started, the Thunder had its full complement of players for at least a portion of Monday’s practice.
Kendrick Perkins, returning from a dislocated left ring finger, was back and is expected to play Tuesday against Phoenix. But the headliner was All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who participated in on-court drills with the team for the first time since he had arthroscopic surgery earlier this month.
“There were bits and pieces where Russell participated in practice, so that was good,” coach Scott Brooks said. “It was good to get everybody out there, working together.”
And even in that brief setting, Reggie Jackson, the man who is replacing Westbrook in the starting lineup, seemed to be impressed.
“Oh, man. Russell today…” Jackson said when asked how Westbrook looked, cracking a sly smile. “It’s actually funny. My brother and his brother talk a little before games. His brother told mine that Russell’s probably bouncing better than ever. I had to see it to believe it. One of the dunks (today), he went up and looked like the old Russell, plus some, head at the rim. We’ll be happy when he gets back fully healthy, but it’s good to see him with a smile on his face, being about the team, bouncing back and happy to be back on the court.”
No. 3: D-Wade done talking about Durant — One of the storylines of training camp and the preseason has been the through-the-media tiff between Heat star Dwyane Wade and Thunder star Kevin Durant over whether or not Wade deserves to be listed among the top 10 players in the NBA. The latest wrinkle in the argument came from Durant, who recently told EuroHoops.net that it’s time for Wade to “pass the torch” about being a top 10 player. Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says Wade is done addressing the topic:
Guard Dwyane Wade is done responding to anything Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has to say about him.
Durant recently said it was time for Wade to “pass the torch” to younger players. When asked about it, Wade declined comment.
“I’m not talking about that,” Wade said.
It was the second issue between the players. Last month Durant said Wade didn’t belong on the list of the NBA’s top 10 players. LeBron James also declined to comment on Durant’s statements.
No. 4: Lin, Beverly still in thick of race for starting gig — The Rockets know who their starting center(Dwight Howard), starting shooting guard (James Harden) and starting small forward (Chandler Parsons) will be, but the rest of their starting lineup may be in flux. In the preseason, Houston has started Terrance Jones and Donatas Motiejunas at power forward at times and at point guard, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverly have gotten starting gigs as well. Coach Kevin McHale tells the Houston Chronicle‘s Jenny Dial Creech that the Beverly-Lin race is still up in the air:
As questions continue to swirl about who the Rockets’ starting point guard is this season, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley played several minutes together Monday night.
Lin started at point guard and played 33 minutes. Beverley came off the bench and played 26.
“I thought (Lin) did a lot of nice things,” coach Kevin McHale said. “He broke people down; he had eight assists. Between he and (Beverley), they had 13 assists and four turnovers. I liked when they were both in the game.”
Lin finished with six points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. Beverley had 10 points, five assists and two rebounds. McHale praised both for their defense.
“I thought they were both really solid,” he said. “Any mistakes that they do make are mistakes because they’re trying really hard and getting after it. They stay in place. They use their hands. They’re both diligent guys.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Player-turned-broadcaster Luke Walton, who will help on out Lakers games this season, wants to play again in the NBA … Nuggets point guard Nate Robinson, who played defensive back at Washington in college, believes he could have been an elite NFL defensive back … Magic forward Glen Davis says he’s making progress with his foot rehab … Charlotte has proven to be one of the better defensive teams of the preseason
ICYMI Of The Night: It is always fun to watch when Kyrie Irving busts out his Uncle Drew game on NBA types …