Arsalan Kazemi and Nerlens Noel mingled with fans at the Sixers' Beach Bash last weekend. (USA Today Images)
As July draws to a close, the Sixers are still searching for a coach.
That fact frustrates many fans, who are unable to understand the reason behind the drawn-out process. But therein lies the answer: It is a process developed by Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie.
And Hinkie is strictly following his plan.
Hinkie was not present at the Sixers' annual Beach Bash last weekend in Avalon, N.J., but the organization was represented. CEO Scott O’Neil was on hand mingling with fans, and players Lavoy Allen, Nerlens Noel and Arsalan Kazemi made appearances over the course of the afternoon, taking photographs and signing autographs.
Allen is a Philadelphia native long familiar with the passion of the city's fans but Noel and Kazemi are just beginning to experience the Sixers' fan base. So far, both are impressed with their loyalty.
“I have gotten a lot of love from the city,” Noel said. “It is a just a humbling experience to be in this [happy] fan base. I just really appreciate everybody.”
Noel hasn’t played basketball since February when he tore his left ACL. He has been diligently rehabbing and hopes to be back on the hardwood around the Christmas holiday.
Kazemi played on the Sixers' summer league team and demonstrated his toughness, muscling with bigger players for rebounds and diving on the floor for every loose ball. Kazemi has received praise from fans on various social media outlets.
“That is the way I play,” Kazemi said. “I am sure the fans like the way I play and the coaches too, because I leave it all out there. I just try to help win games. I have been getting a lot of messages and compliments about the way I have been playing because that is the way Philly wants their team to play. I am glad to hear that.”
Kazemi was a second-round selection in this year’s NBA draft. At 6-foot-7 he is undersized at the power forward position and offensively he is not a threat at this point in his career, but his desire to develop an NBA game is appealing. He might spend this year in Philadelphia, though he could end up overseas.
“I still don’t have a contract so that is a possibility,” Kazemi said. “Whatever is better for my team because I am part of the Sixers organization. Whatever is best for my team and me and helps me improve and helps the team in the future we will do. I still don’t know about that but we are working on it, but yes, overseas is still a possibility.”
Overseas Kazemi would get to play regularly. He could work on aspects of his game in a practice setting and then implement what he learns in game situations. If he stays with the Sixers, he is likely headed for D-League stints in between watching his teammates at the NBA level, or he could be given a permanent NBDL assignment for the season.
This fall will mark the first year the Sixers have their own NBDL team, the Delaware 87ers.
Whichever road Kazemi chooses, it will be in conjunction with the Sixers' front office.
Meanwhile, Noel is headed back to Alabama to pick up where he left off before last Tuesday, when he flew to Philadelphia to meet with members of the Sixers' organization, the media and fans.
“I will be in Birmingham, Ala., for the next month or so rehabbing, then I will make the move up here to Philadelphia,” Noel said. “We definitely have a bright future. I know [the Sixers] have not had the success they have wanted, but with Sam Hinkie making the moves he has been making, he is setting Philadelphia up for potential championship seasons, at least that’s how I see it."