Sixers, Pelicans make draft-night trade official

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Sixers, Pelicans make draft-night trade official

Updated July 13, 11:30 p.m.

It was expected, but now it's official.

The Sixers on Friday night announced that the trade with the New Orleans Pelicans to acquire Nerlens Noel and a 2014 first-round draft pick in exchange for Jrue Holiday is officially completed. Separately, the Sixers on Saturday morning confirmed that their acquisition of forwards Royce White and Furkan Aldemir from the Houston Rockets is also now official.

A league source confirmed to CSNPhilly.com's Dei Lynam on Wednesday that the New Orleans trade was official pending Holiday's physical.

Noel was selected No. 6 overall by the Pelicans in last month's draft. New Orleans also acquired the draft's 42nd overall pick by the Sixers (Pierre Jackson).

"The draft is an important pipeline of talent for our team and our intention was to add players who could position us well for the future, while also allowing us to capitalize on attractive opportunities to acquire top-flight talent or additional future draft choices," Sixers president and general manager Sam Hinkie said in statement. "Nerlens Noel and an additional 2014 first-round draft choice give us two new opportunities to add talent to our team."

Noel, a 6-foot-11, 228-pound center averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and an NCAA-best 4.4 blocks in his one and only season at Kentucky. He was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Freshman of the Year as well as First Team All-SEC.

Noel played in 24 games at Kentucky before suffering a torn ACL in his left knee in February.

Holiday, a 2009 first-round draft pick by the Sixers, played four seasons in Philadelphia and made his first All-Star team this past season as a 22-year-old by averaging 17.7 points, 8.0 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.

"Once I got the call, [Hinkie] said I was traded, the initial hit is obviously like, 'Wow, what kind of happened?' But, back then, once you start thinking about it, you have Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith, you had Robin Lopez, you [have] Eric Gordon, I was like, 'Well, dang, we're actually going to be really good,'" Holiday said at his introductory press conference on Friday.

White and Aldemir were later acquired from the Rockets in return for future draft considerations and cash. White has a well-documented anxiety disorder which kept him in a dispute with the Rockets and off the floor for his entire rookie year, while Aldemir, a 6-10 big, spent last year playing overseas in Turkey.

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

Without Joel Embiid, Brett Brown eager to see if Sixers can protect the rim

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have been challenged by playing without Joel Embiid in one of two games in a back-to-back series all season. Now they will have to do it in at least the next two straight games. 

“We’re going to be without him tomorrow (against the Clippers) and in Milwaukee and we’ll go from there,” Brett Brown said after practice Monday. 

Embiid, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, suffered a left knee contusion in Friday’s win over the Trail Blazers. He did not travel with the team to Atlanta on Saturday for the back-to-back series. 

Brown called the decision “precautionary.” Embiid did not practice Monday but took some light shots after. He was pre-scheduled to sit out Wednesday against the Bucks in accordance with his limitations for consecutive games. Embiid is reportedly expected to return Friday against the Rockets.

The standout rookie leaves a glaring hole on the court when he misses games. The Sixers are 2-10 when he does not play. For all the ways Embiid dominates at the basket (22.4 points over the last 10 games), there is an obvious difference on the defensive end without him. 

“It’s still about our defense, it’s still about running, it’s still about sharing the ball,” Brown said. “I think you go with Jahlil (Okafor) and Nerlens (Noel) and challenge them in relation to rim protection and what Joel provides us. The group around them also has got to perform at a higher level when you don’t have Joel. I think that second group that we have been playing, led by Nerlens, really can take on a far greater defensive identity than it has recently, and Nerlens will be the captain of that.”

This is a time when the Sixers’ logjam at the five-spot actually helps them. Brown still has three true centers to turn to, in addition to power forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric, whom he could slide into the position if they go small. Brown sees a silver lining for his bigs in the uphill battle of playing without Embiid. 

“It definitely hurts the team, how can we spin it any other way?” Brown said. “But like anything, you’re going to now look at Nerlens and Jahlil. This is fantastic for those two. It could prove, based on some things, Richaun (Holmes) sees daylight a little bit. 

“There aren’t many teams, I would suspect, that have the ability to roll out three young guys when somebody like Joel goes down and look forward to watching them develop more, look forward to giving them the opportunity to play NBA minutes.”

Okafor has been receiving the start when Embiid is out. (He has been out of the rotation when Embiid does play.) Okafor, though, is dealing with right knee soreness he experienced on Saturday. The Sixers kept an eye on him Monday and held him out of 5-on-5 drills in practice. Okafor said the team was being cautious, and he wanted to rest his knee given the number of games coming up. He is listed as probable against the Clippers.

“It was bothering me a little bit in the warmup lines, I started to feel it. When I got going, it started feeling really good, then when I sat out for an extended period, it got kind of sore on me again,” Okafor explained. “Today they were trying to make sure I could get back to being 100 percent because they knew that my knee was bothering me. They haven’t really told me what the plan was for tomorrow. Today was really focused on getting me back to being healthy.”

The Clippers are shorthanded, as well. Blake Griffin has been sidelined since Dec. 18 because of a right knee procedure and Chris Paul had surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left thumb. Griffin could make his return against the Sixers.

Embiid's honor
Embiid's Player of the Week honor is rare for a rookie. He's only the third Sixers rookie ever to win it, joining Allen Iverson and Michael Carter-Williams.

The last Sixer before Embiid to be named Eastern Conference Player of the Week was Thaddeus Young in January 2014.

The Sixers won all three games Embiid played last week. He averaged 22.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.7 blocks.

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Joel Embiid (left knee) to miss Sixers' next two games

Update: 4 p.m.

Joel Embiid did not practice on Monday and is listed as doubtful for the Sixers' game Tuesday against the Clippers.

Embiid hyperextended his left knee in the Sixers' 93-92 win over the Blazers Friday. He said after the game that the knee was fine, but the Sixers are clearly exercising caution with their young star center.

"I knew it was OK. I just landed the wrong way," Embiid said Friday. "I'm great. The knee's fine. They did an MRI and stuff, everything looked good."

The Sixers are calling it a left knee contusion. Embiid will also rest on Wednesday against the Bucks. He is expected to return Friday against the Rockets, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Sixers are 13-17 when Embiid plays and 2-10 without him. Brett Brown is looking forward to seeing how the defense responds without its centerpiece Tuesday and Wednesday (see story).

Jahlil Okafor (right knee soreness) was limited at Monday's practice but is probable to play the Clippers.

Okafor had 12 points, four rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes in Saturday's 110-93 loss at Atlanta.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.