Sixers trade Holiday for Noel, first-round pick

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Sixers trade Holiday for Noel, first-round pick

It was a monumental night for new Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. During his first draft with the team, Hinkie seemed to have his hands in at least a dozen trades or proposals for trades.

“The exact status quo wasn’t going to get it done,” Hinkie said after the draft.

In the end, Hinkie just may have pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the night.

A league source confirmed the 76ers have acquired the draft rights for No. 6 overall pick, forward/center Nerlens Noel. To get Noel, the Sixers had to give up their All-Star point guard, Jrue Holiday and the No. 42 overall pick.

The Sixers will also get a first-round pick, protected through the top five spots, from New Orleans for the 2014 draft. The Sixers will also send the 42nd overall pick, Pierre Jackson, to the Pelicans in the deal.

While the Sixers used the No. 11 overall pick to draft 6-foot-6 point guard Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse University (see story), they dealt their No. 35 pick to Washington for two picks and then traded away one of those picks.

When the dust finally cleared past midnight, the Sixers had Noel, Carter-Williams, a protected first-round pick in 2014 and Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi, a 6-foot-7 high-energy forward from Iran (see story).

However, the trading of Holiday for the 6-foot-10, 228-pound Noel was a game-changer.

Hinkie, per NBA regulations, was not allowed to comment directly on the trade.

“It was a challenging night in many ways with one gut-wrenching phone call,” Hinkie said, perhaps alluding to the call to Holiday to tell him he had been traded. “All in all, though, I think it was the right thing to do.”

In trading Holiday and getting two lottery picks, the Sixers solved some salary-cap issues. Holiday is set to begin a four-year, $41 million contract next season.

The draft-day wrangling under Hinkie makes one wonder if high-priced players like Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner or Spencer Hawes could be on the move, too.

With Holiday off the books, the Sixers have approximately $35.3 million earmarked for salaries in 2013-14, not including the two first-round picks. If the cap is set at $58 to $60 million, the Sixers could have a little more wiggle room.

That also opens the door for the big question: What do the Sixers do with Andrew Bynum, the huge acquisition from last summer? The Sixers can offer Bynum a max deal or use him for a sign-and-trade. With Bynum and/or the 6-foot-10, 228-pound Noel in the frontcourt and first-round picks slated for next season, the youthful Sixers could be quite formidable.

Noel, who played just 24 games at the University of Kentucky in his only season at the school, was projected by most experts to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for Cleveland. However, Noel may have slipped to No. 6 in the draft because he tore his ACL in February.

Noel will not be ready to play by opening night as he continues to recover from his ACL surgery.

The Sixers with another big man with bad knees?

However, Noel was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year by averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocks and 2.1 steals in 32 minutes per game.

Meanwhile, it was assumed that Holiday was the player the Sixers were going to build around. The All-Star guard turned 23 just two weeks ago and had improved every season he has been in the NBA. The 2012-13 season was the quintessential breakout year that many predicted for Holiday. On opening night, Holiday signed a four-year contract extension, later, he earned his first All-Star berth and at age 22, he became the undisputed leader of the Sixers.

There’s more: Holiday was fourth in the NBA in assists with eight per game and 10th in minutes per game with nearly 38.

But Holiday needed help in the backcourt and with Lou Williams and Andre Iguodala departed for other teams last year, the Sixers didn’t give it to him. With no backup point guard to help with the minutes or to give Holiday a chance to move off the ball to the two-guard spot, the All-Star was second in the league with 3.7 turnovers per game and at the end of the season admitted he was fatigued.

Chalk it up to all those minutes, the demanding position of point guard and the added responsibility taken on as the team captain, and the breakout year came with a price for Holiday.

But in New Orleans, Holiday will be teamed in the backcourt with point guard Greivis Vasquez, who averaged 9.0 assists per game, as well as veteran guard Eric Gordon, who has averaged 18.0 points per game in his five years in the NBA.

As for the Sixers, the future is a little cloudy, though Hinkie hopes to change that.

“We will take the steps to be future focused,” Hinkie said.

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

CAMDEN, N.J. — Two bigs back, one big out.

Nerlens Noel will make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Noel has been out since the preseason after undergoing elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October.

Jahlil Okafor also will return following a bout of gastroenteritis, which sidelined him for the last three games. Neither Noel nor Okafor will have minute restrictions. 

Joel Embiid, on the other hand, will not play Sunday. He will miss the game because of minor inflammation in his right elbow, which he suffered in Thursday’s game against the Pelicans. The decision also is in conjunction with the load management plan the Sixers have mapped out for him. Embiid did not practice Saturday and will not travel to Detroit. 

“It’s very minor and we expect him back soon. Not much concern at all,” Brett Brown said of Embiid, adding, “I think it’s far more precautionary than anything people should get nervous about.”

With Embiid out, the addition of Noel will help the Sixers when they battle the Pistons and big man Andre Drummond, who is averaging a dominating 15.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season. Noel will come off the bench as he gets reacclimated to the team and the flow of the game. 

“I felt great [to be cleared to play],” Noel said. “I was anticipating it so I got my mind right and this is what I’ve been working for throughout the whole rehab process. I’m feeling good and looking forward to it.” 

The Sixers are mindful of the fact Noel has not played in a regular season game since the finale last April. He has been working on getting his wind back up, and the Sixers will watch it closely in-game when determining his playing time. Noel said he has a “good starting foundation” with his conditioning. 

“You can do as much as you want on a treadmill,” Brown said. “You can do as much as you want one-on-zero … but there is nothing that’s like an NBA game. Everything goes faster, everything goes quicker, you have emotions involved which can also drown how fast and how long you can go. Those things are just part of him coming back into it, and we’ll manage him accordingly.”

Noel’s debut is the first step for him, regardless of how many plays. His athleticism will give another look to the lineup. Brown foresees having Noel back will allow the Sixers to play faster and protect the rim with a greater “bounce.” 

“We miss playing with Nerlens, just his presence,” Okafor said. “He’s an athlete. Obviously we miss him on the defensive side. We miss him as a leader vocally. It’s just going to be great having him back on the floor.”

The Sixers could counter the Pistons with the combination of Noel and Okafor, a duo they struggled to utilize together last season. Brown’s decision will be based on matchups. He pointed out a situation in which Drummond and Jon Leuer are on the court would be more favorable than one in which Tobias Harris is playing power forward. 

“You just try to pick your moments where you can maybe pair those guys up,” Brown said. “I think it will be a more genuine conversation as Nerlens starts playing more with us. He’s just really come back into it. But we come back and you play Toronto and you have all three bigs available, then it becomes another level of a conversation. I do look forward to it when we have an opportunity to intelligently match up with other people and we’ll play it out like that.”

The Sixers' next game after Sunday is Wednesday against the Raptors, when they expect to have their bigs ready to go.

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.

The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.

The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.

The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.