76ers

Nerlens Noel goes off on role: 'They need to figure this s--- out'

Nerlens Noel goes off on role: 'They need to figure this s--- out'

Nerlens Noel has played only two games this season after recovering from elective knee surgery, and already the frustrations he expressed about the Sixers' roster at the start of training camp have come to the surface.

After playing only 8:02 — all in the first half — of the Sixers' 100-89 loss to the Lakers on Friday night (see Instant Replay), Noel voiced his frustration with his lack of playing time and constitution of the roster. He scored two points (1 for 4 from the field) with five rebounds and a blocked shot. 

“I just want to play basketball,” Noel said in response to whether or not he wanted to be paired with another center. “I don’t really care who I’m playing with. I’m not an eight-minute player so I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t really care. I need to be on the court playing basketball. I think I’m too good to be playing eight minutes. Like, no, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. That’s crazy. They need to figure this s--- out.”

Noel was listed as questionable throughout the day and was cleared to play just over 30 minutes before game time. He had suffered a sprained left ankle in his return on Sunday and sat out Wednesday’s game. 

Fellow big men Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor played 29 and 24 minutes, respectively. Even with Noel clocking eight minutes, Richaun Holmes did not play.

“It was a matter of minutes,” head coach Brett Brown said. “I felt like when they started going small something had to give. And Nerlens was a casualty to that, as well as his health is not 100 percent."

The Sixers have been trying to maneuver their overcrowded frontcourt, a challenge that’s carried over from last season. One approach has been playing (and starting) Embiid and Okafor together. Brown has the option of trying a new duo of Embiid and Noel, or giving Noel and Okafor another look. On Friday, Noel played the traditional four-five combination with Ersan Ilyasova. 

Noel understands Brown has a tall task on his hands trying to get all his players on the court with only so many minutes to go around. Playing two centers has also meant taking Ersan Ilyasova out of the starting lineup and shifting Dario Saric to small forward in many instances. 

Noel is not surprised by the current obstacles created by the abundance of bigs. Prior to his return, he commented, “I don't think the roster's changed” in regard to the logjam. 

“I anticipated this,” Noel said. “Like I said before, I think it’s just too much on the coach’s plate. Pretty much, I think like I said, the guys that run the operations, they do what they do.”

Noel is not hiding his strong opinion of the state of the Sixers. At the same time, there is only so much he can do. His job is to play basketball, not make roster changes. 

“I control what I can control,” Noel said. “I’m that smart. I know I’m still in a situation. The smartest thing I can do is control what I can control and work hard and work on the things I need to work on. But like I said, it’s just too much on the coach’s plate. So regardless of who handles it, I think there’s a lot of frustration.”

But if it were up to Noel, what would he like to see happen?

“Ideally, I’d just like to be playing basketball,” he said. “Just doing my thing carefree.”

Sixers sign center Christ Koumadje to partially guaranteed contract

Sixers sign center Christ Koumadje to partially guaranteed contract

Updated: 6:40 p.m.

Elton Brand isn’t messing around when it comes to depth at center.

The Sixers are signing big man Christ Koumadje to an Exhibit 10 contract.

Koumadje, who stands 7-foot-4, is an undrafted rookie out of Florida State. He played with the Sixers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, averaging six points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 13.7 minutes a game. He also had issues with fouls, committing 4.8 a contest — players get 10 fouls in summer league play.

If Koumadje, 23, gets into an NBA game, he will be the first player from the country of Chad in north-central Africa to do so. He’d also be the tallest player in the league — if the Celtics don’t sign the 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall to an NBA deal. There is a possibility that Koumadje is simply an extra camp body and the team is giving him a hard look for its G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. 

The contract has an Exhibit 10 attachment. In that instance, the team has the right to convert the contract to a two-way deal. The Sixers already have their two-way spots filled with Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle, but things can certainly change. If a two-way deal is not offered off the Exhibit 10, the player can be waived and then sign with the team’s G-League affiliate for up to $50,000, more than a general G-League contract.

Brand already made it a point to increase the depth behind Joel Embiid, signing veterans Al Horford and Kyle O’Quinn.

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More changes coming for Sixers' Brett Brown as Lindsey Harding takes job with Kings

More changes coming for Sixers' Brett Brown as Lindsey Harding takes job with Kings

More changes are coming to the Sixers’ coaching staff for 2019-20.

Lindsey Harding, who became the first female coach in franchise history, is taking a job as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings, a team source confirms.

Harding was serving as a member of the Sixers’ player development staff. The job on new head coach Luke Walton’s bench in Sacramento likely represents a better opportunity for Harding.

The Sixers have added three coaches to Brett Brown’s staff this offseason. The team plucked Ime Udoka — considered one of the better assistants in the league — away from the Spurs along with player development coach Cameron Hodges. The team also hired Joseph Blair, who most recently won the G-League championship as head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the G-League affiliate of the Rockets.

Brown lost Monty Williams and Bill Lange over the last year. Williams is now the head coach of the Phoenix Suns while Lange takes over for Phil Martelli at Saint Joseph’s.

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