Updated: 6:12 p.m.
Brett Brown plans to go big again against the Nets, but that will not include Nerlens Noel in the mix.
Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor will start together when the Nets visit South Philadelphia on Sunday evening for the first time this season. Noel will not be part of the rotation barring foul problems or injuries to starters. Brown does not see squeezing all three into the rotation will help the Sixers.
"I think trying to force feed three bigs in a game is unfair," Brown said Sunday before the Sixers faced the Nets. "I intend on going with two of those three bigs tonight. Nerlens will not be one of those people that will be in rotation unless something happens with foul trouble or some type of other circumstance."
Noel has been expressing his displeasure with the frontcourt logjam since training camp. He has maintained the team could not be successful with three starting-caliber centers.
"I think a lot of people know it was going to get to a point like this," Noel said. "Now I’m the one that’s in it, so I’m going to deal with it the best way possible."
Noel spoke out about playing eight minutes on Friday, his second game back from elective left knee surgery. He met with Brown on Saturday morning before practice. Brown said his comments did not influence the rotation decision.
"It has zero to do with anything he said to the press," Brown said.
Noel echoed Brown on the timing of the team's game plan and believes the team made the call before he spoke out most recently. He was not able to be worked into the Sixers' new system in the the early parts of the season, missing the first 23 games rehabbing from surgery.
"I think this has been decided a long time ago. I think it had nothing to do with it," Noel said. "It’s been something that’s been set in stone. That’s why I’ve been staying very content and just focused on bettering myself and worrying about the things I can control. You’ve just got to prepare yourself for things like these and take it one step at a time."
The Sixers' flow has been impacted since they began starting Embiid and Okafor together. Ersan Ilyasova has been moved to the bench and Dario Saric has been shifted to small forward. Brown sees the decision about Noel as a way to create better flow. They are not tied to keeping Noel out of the rotation, but going with this for now.
"We talked freely with (Sixers president of basketball operations) Bryan (Colangelo), my staff, owners that we feel that two out of the three you can find ways to responsibly play without hurting the team," Brown said, later adding, "I assume that we're going to stick with this rotation for a while. It could end up Nerlens, what I've just said to you I've to Nerlens, and we'll have a conversation of what it looks like when we come back in a few days against New Orleans (on Tuesday)."
Noel participated in pregame warmups Sunday and will continue to stay engaged with the team in this new role.
"Just seeing how I can continue to better myself with what the standards are now," Noel said. "I feel like just continuing to go out and practice, staying long after practice, getting my shots up, regardless of what the situation is now, I’m going to keep working on my game and what I can do and what I can control and just keep progressing with that."