Arnett Moultrie in NBDL 'for as long as it takes'

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Arnett Moultrie in NBDL 'for as long as it takes'

Brett Brown said it wasn’t “a punishment” or “a scolding” or "a demotion." According to the Sixers head coach, the decision to send Arnett Moultrie to the NBDL was an attempt “to help professionals be professionals.”

On Tuesday evening, the Sixers announced that Moultrie had been assigned to their D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. Moultrie had surgery on his broken ankle in September and hasn’t played this season.

Brown said that while Moultrie is “coming along,” the second-year forward still has “goals and things he has to meet, standard-wise.”

“A lot of times in coaching, you have things that are just vague,” Brown said before Wednesday’s game against the Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center. “With us there are standards -- exact standards fitness-wise that just haven’t come to be. And he’s going to continue to strive to reach those numbers, and when they happen, we look forward to him playing.”

It’s not the first time Moultrie’s fitness has been questioned. Last season, former head coach Doug Collins was slow to play Moultrie and hinted that he was out of shape. The Sixers subsequently sent Moultrie to the D-League where he appeared in seven games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Earlier this week, in an interview with the Delaware County Daily Times, Moultrie insisted that he’s healthy and rejected the out-of-shape narrative. He was assigned to Delaware the following day.

“It’s not my ankle,” Moultrie told the Delaware County Daily Times. “It’s not my conditioning. But at this point, I really don’t care. I’m just sick of all the excuses. If it ain’t one thing, it’s another thing.

“It’s just [baloney].”

Moultrie, who is listed at 6-10, 240 pounds, played in his first game for the 87ers on Tuesday. Brown said Moultrie “moved quite well” and didn’t “treat it like he was going to detention.”

“It was actually planned long before his comments,” Brown said about the timing of sending Moultrie to Delaware. “You see a young player who, competitively, wants to get out on the court. In a twisted way, you applaud that. The bottom line for us is we’ve asked our players to get into career-best fitness. That is one of those non-negotiables. We want him to play well when ultimately he gets on an NBA court. For him to not play for the duration he has, and then just throw him out when it’s not at the career-best fitness that we demand from our program, then we’re not going to do it. It’s really that simple.”

The Sixers selected Moultrie late in the first round of the 2012 draft. In his first year with the team, Moultrie appeared in 47 games and averaged 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 11.5 minutes.

How long might Moultrie be with the 87ers?

“As long as it takes for him to reach his fitness standards,” Brown replied.

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

Cold can't keep Joel Embiid away from first Sixers practice

STOCKTON, N.J. — Joel Embiid awoke Tuesday morning and was still feeling ill from a cold and virus he has been battling since last Friday. He had been coughing, experiencing a bloody nose and even vomiting, but all those symptoms could not stop him from a day he has been eyeing for over two years: his first NBA practice.

Embiid had stayed back in Philadelphia on Monday night while the Sixers traveled to training camp at Stockton University in South Jersey. On Tuesday, he decided to leave the city and join the team on campus.

“I woke up this morning and I was like, ‘I waited too long for this time, so I’ve got to go and try to do some work in there,’” Embiid said.

Embiid had been sidelined by foot injuries since the Sixers drafted him third overall in 2014. Tuesday marked his first NBA practice, and he is eyeing his first preseason game next Tuesday against the Celtics.

Embiid was not expected to be part of training camp Tuesday because of his illness. He surprised the team when he arrived while practice was underway. The Sixers' medical staff cleared him before he took the court.

“He forced himself into practice today,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He said, ‘I feel good, I want to go.’ With the time that he has put in the last few years, he meant it. You respected that instruction.”

Embiid is following a minutes restriction during training camp, which currently is 25 minutes for the morning session and 20 minutes for the evening session. His previous physical restrictions have been lifted and the team is monitoring him for workload and time on the court.

“I step back and figure out how do I want to spend my money?” Brown said. “If we’ve got X amount of time, where do I feel like he can make the most improvement? Where do I feel like he’s going to have the best chance to get on the court and play minutes, as we expect against the Celtics?”

Tuesday morning’s session focused on the defensive end. While Embiid had trouble breathing at points and tired quickly, he made an effort to give 100 percent on the court. The only lags in Embiid’s game Brown noticed were attributed to his illness, not because of his foot.

“I don’t think he’s missed a beat from a great month of September,” Brown said.

The Sixers sensed the enthusiasm from Embiid. Regardless of his restrictions, his energy was felt among the team.

“When he did get in, he played well,” Ben Simmons said. “He’s a big inside presence. He got a lot of boards and crashed the offensive glass.”

Added Jahlil Okafor: "He’s excited to be here. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years with his injuries that he couldn’t control. But he’s finally here and he’s taking advantage of that."

The Sixers will hold training camp through Friday at Stockton University. Embiid is looking to push past any symptoms to be on the court as much as he can.

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Nerlens Noel's complaints only damage Sixers' trade leverage

Silence is golden.

It's a phrase uttered often by parents and teachers. It can also be an effective phrase when dealing with negotiations.

I'm not revealing a big secret by saying the Sixers have a logjam in their frontcourt. At some point, something has to give.

Nerlens Noel, a key component of the aforementioned logjam, doubled down on his quotes from over the weekend about the Sixers' "silly" frontcourt situation.

"I don't see a way it can work," Noel said on Monday. "It's just a logjam. You have three young, talented centers that can play 30-plus minutes a night."

Uh-oh.

Bryan Colangelo acknowledged that teams have been trying to "poach" a big man off him. He's been adamant in saying that he's not shopping any of his bigs. For leverage purposes, that's wise.

Any leverage Colangelo may have accrued through his media tour this summer took a hit. With the health of Joel Embiid still a question mark, it's important that the Sixers take a wait-and-see approach to their situation. Noel may have just put a damper on that plan.

I'm not advocating for the trade of Noel and keeping Jahlil Okafor. In fact, I've said that if Embiid proves he's healthy, I'd move both Noel and Okafor if the value was appropriate.

There can be arguments made for keeping Noel over the other two centers. His athleticism and rim protection skills fit Brett Brown's system and the way the NBA is trending. And it's important to note that Noel isn't wrong. It won't benefit him to take a cut in minutes. It won't help Okafor either. It's not the most pleasant situation to be sure. He has every right to be unhappy, but getting the media involved doesn't benefit Noel or the Sixers.

Anyone in any job should have the right to speak out if they feel they're being slighted, but sometimes you have to "play the game." If Noel were a poker player, he just revealed his hand. He should've shown up, said the right things and allowed Colangelo to negotiate a deal.

The best parallel is what the Eagles and Sam Bradford went through this offseason. Bradford was unhappy the Eagles traded valuable draft picks to acquire Carson Wentz. Understandable, but when he threw his rattle down and sat out part of camp, it helped nobody. The Broncos tried to lowball Howie Roseman, figuring Roseman had no leverage with Bradford's intent to get traded out of town. Roseman stood his ground and the Eagles were able to hold the Vikings hostage when Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending knee injury.

It's not something you hope for by any means, but these things happen. Players get hurt and teams are left scrambling to find a replacement. Take a look at the Chris Bosh situation with the Miami Heat. Bosh, who's had a tremendous career, will likely never play again because of issues with blood clots. The Heat are likely not a match for the Sixers given defensive-minded center Hassan Whiteside's new contract, but the point is that you never know what will happen between now and opening night.

For Bradford, it was resolved just a week before the season started. If Noel follows suit with Bradford, perhaps there will be a similar solution.

"Things need to get situated," Noel said. "I think things obviously need to be moved around, someone needs to be moved around. It's just a tough situation. I can't really say too much because I have no say in the matter, so obviously that's for who can handle the situation in the right manner."

Well, Nerlens, you said too much already.