Does Sixers closing door on Norvel Pelle open it for a Nerlens Noel return?
Sources say there is a real chance that Noel, 25, could reunite with the Sixers.
Norvel Pelle’s tenure with the 76ers is over.
The team is waiving the reserve center, according to sources. Pelle’s contract for the 2020-21 season would have become guaranteed for $1.5 million if not waived before Friday night.
Right now, three-time all-star Joel Embiid, and Paul Reed, who was drafted 58th overall in Wednesday’s draft, are the only two centers on the Sixers’ roster. This move could set up the return of former Sixer Nerlens Noel, who is a free agent.
The Sixers originally acquired Noel and a first-round pick in a trade on the night of the 2013 draft from the New Orleans Pelicans for then-all-star point guard Jrue Holiday. Noel sat out what would have been his rookie season in 2013-14 to rehabilitate a torn left anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his lone season at Kentucky.
The Sixers shipped Noel to the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 23, 2017, in exchange for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, a 2017 second-round pick, and a second-rounder in Wednesday’s draft. Noel spent the rest of the season and the following one with the Mavs before playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.
Now, sources says, there’s a real chance Noel, 26, could reunite with the Sixers. Teams officially will be permitted to contact free agents or their agents at 6 p.m. Friday. Players will be allowed to sign free-agent deals at 12:01 p.m. Monday.
Like Pelle, Noel was a fan favorite in Philly. Noel was also Embiid’s best friend on the team. In addition, he and all-star point guard Ben Simmons are close friends and share the same agency, Klutch Sports Group. New Sixers president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, has also been a fan of his playing style for some time, according to sources.
Noel has averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes in 361 games with 167 starts.
Pelle averaged 2.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 9.7 minutes in 24 appearances this season as a rookie. The 27-year-old had four blocks against the Knicks in his debut on Nov. 29. His contract was converted from a two-way to a standard one on Feb. 23.
In other news, The Athletic is reporting the Sixers will sign guard Dakota Mathias to a two-way contract. The 25-year-old played for the Dallas Mavericks, G-League affiliate Texas Legends this past season. He shot 39.5% on three-pointers.