The 76ers tried Monday to defuse the controversy that Nerlens Noel started when he spoke out about the team's crowded situation at center.

But Sixers president Bryan Colangelo implied that they are more concerned about the team's maturation and growth than they are about his individual concerns.

Noel said Sunday night that it "doesn't make any sense" that the Sixers have three starting-caliber centers on the roster - the 6-foot-11, 228-pounder along with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor. Noel said "something needs to happen" to unclog the logjam.

It was expected that the team would trade away Noel or/and Okafor during or after the NBA draft in June.

"We have a lot of time for things to work out," Colangelo said during the team's media day at its new practice facility. "Some of it will happen in the preseason. Some of it will happen in the regular season. But I don't feel like we are up against any kind of deadline of any sort."

The Sixers don't want to give away Noel or Okafor just for the sake of not having three starting-caliber centers.

They understand that Noel is unhappy with his expected role. But in their eyes, he and Okafor are just too valuable for them to unload without a good return in a deal.

Teams are thought to be unwilling to give something back of equal value because they believe the Sixers are desperate to unload one of them. Also, the uncertainty around Embiid's health is a major reason that the Sixers haven't felt compelled to make what could be a bad deal.

The third overall pick in the 2014 draft has yet to play in an NBA game after two surgeries on his right foot.

"We've talked about the cautionary tale there," Colangelo said.

Through constant evaluations, the Sixers' medical team will determine just how active Embiid will be throughout the season.

"So this is a step for him," Colangelo said. "It's a step for others. We are thrilled to be in the situation that we are in to have depth that we have at the position."

Yet Colangelo said he agreed with Noel that this is a tough situation for the centers, calling Noel's comments "understandable."

"I think Nerlens actually did a pretty good job sizing up what we have, which is a lot of depth and a lot of talent at that position," Colangelo said.

He did, however, correct Noel by stating that the team has four quality centers, with the fourth one being Richaun Holmes.

Noel's didn't change his stance on Monday. "I just don't think it makes too much sense to come into the season with such a heavy lineup at the center position. I don't know what there is really to see."

Meanwhile, Okafor would not - at least publicly - talk about the elephant in the room.

He said he had not spoken to Noel or Embiid about the situation.

"I didn't have any expectations in the offseason of who was going to be here, who wasn't," he said. "Obviously, we do have a lot of bigs. That's not a secret. . . . I wouldn't say that I'm surprised and I don't know what's going to happen. That's out of my control. I will take care of what I can."

The Sixers' front office and ownership group are the ones who ultimately have control of the NBA futures of Noel and Okafor.

Meanwhile, Embiid gives the impression that no one should be concerned about his future. He expects to play in the preseason opener and apparently long after that.

"I'm confident I'm going to have a long, successful career," he said. "The way I've been feeling the past couple of months, I have a lot of confidence in myself. . . . From what it looks like right now, I'm going to have around a 20-year career."

kpompey@phillynews.com

@PompeyOnSixers

www.philly.com/Sixersblog