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Sixers: Okafor will sit out Tuesday; Embiid will sit out Wednesday

Faced with the first of 17 back-to-back games this season, the 76ers said Monday that centers Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor would each get a day off.

Faced with the first of 17 back-to-back games this season, the 76ers said Monday that centers Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor would each get a day off.

Embiid missed the previous two seasons after foot surgeries and the Sixers have said all along that they would exercise caution. Okafor is still rounding into form following March knee surgery.

After practice, coach Brett Brown said that Embiid would play Tuesday against the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center but would not make the trip to Charlotte on Wednesday for the game against the Hornets.

Okafor will be in uniform Tuesday but is not scheduled to play. He is slated to play Wednesday in Charlotte.

"When Joel doesn't come to Carolina and Jah [Okafor] is playing, I can play him more and feature him more, and somewhere we hope in the not-too-distant future both will be available, both can split minutes, both can play together," Brown said. "But that is not where you are, so we are in this piecemeal stage."

Embiid has been the most pleasant development for the 0-2 Sixers. He is averaging 17.0 points and 4.5 rebounds in 19 minutes per game.

Okafor is averaging 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in 15.5 minutes.

"I think my minutes will be up against Charlotte, at least that is what we are talking about now," Okafor said. "I am looking forward to the opportunity, and the more I play, the rhythm will come back."

The 6-foot-11, 275-pound Okafor had season-ending knee surgery March 22 to repair the meniscus in his right knee. He averaged 17.5 points and 7 rebounds in 53 games last season as a rookie.

Brown conceded that Okafor has taken longer to rebound from his surgery than the team originally thought and that the Sixers have remained cautious throughout. That approach is fine with Okafor, who isn't complaining about sitting out the front end of the back-to-back games.

"I understand it, especially where I am coming from, where my knee is now," he said. "I have been trusting them with everything else and it has been working out for me because I am feeling better and better every day."

No extension for Noel

Monday was the final day to extend rookie contracts for the draft class of 2013, and as expected, the Sixers have decided not to do so in the case of Nerlens Noel, who is sidelined after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week.

Noel, 22, was the No. 6 overall pick in 2013 by New Orleans, which dealt him to the Sixers in a draft-night deal.

Even if they don't sign him to an extension, that doesn't mean the Sixers would relinquish their rights to Noel. If the Sixers make Noel a qualifying offer in June, he would become a restricted free agent. In that case, the Sixers would have the right to match any offer he receives.

Noel is earning $4.38 million this season. A qualifying offer would be for $5.84 million. Indications are that the Sixers would make the qualifying offer if Noel has not been traded.

Saric's struggles

In the first two games, Sixers rookie Dario Saric has shot 4 for 21 from the field and 1 of 7 from three-point range. It is part of the Sixers' rough start from the perimeter, as they entered Monday ranked last in the NBA in both field-goal percentage (.390) and scoring (84.5 ppg.).

Could Saric, the 6-foot-9 forward who played the previous two seasons in Turkey, be pressing?

"I think so," said Brown, who added: "He has been taking the shots the defense has given him, but he has been short on his shots."

Saric knows he has to relax, which is easier said than done.

"I need to settle down," he said. ". . . I feel my time will come and I just have to work hard in practice and that is the key for success."