NBA Trade Rumors: Lakers expressed interest in Nerlens Noel

With just over a month until the NBA trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers checked in on Nerlens Noel.

It’s hardly a secret that the Philadelphia 76ers have a logjam in the frontcourt. Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor figure to be traded sooner rather than later with Joel Embiid emerging as the clear franchise-changing player among the trio of big men drafted by Sam Hinkie. Noel is most likely to be dealt because he offers the most potential value as a trade chip. According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the teams who has expressed interest in trading for the third-year player out of Kentucky.

A trade of Noel to the Lakers appears unlikely at first glance. LA already owes the SIxers their 2017 first-round pick unless it lands in the top three. At 15-27, the Lakers are probably not quite bad enough this year to keep their pick. Their future assets are limited in terms of tradeable draft picks, and management is not going to be willing to part with Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, or Brandon Ingram. For now, the Lakers can only be counted among the casually interested when it comes to Nerlens Noel.

Noel has had a rocky 2016-17 season so far for the Sixers. A knee injury limited him early on, and minutes have been hard to come by as Philadelphia has a surplus of big men. Noel has played in 10 games this year and is averaging only 14 minutes per game. While actually able to find the court, he has been productive, averaging 7.3 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting close to .600 from the field. Noel’s free throw shooting has also improved, and he appears to mesh well with Embiid.

It has not been easy for Noel to hide his displeasure over the situation, and he spoke on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast earlier this week. Noel has had to adjust to the new management team in Philly, especially after being told by Hinkie that he would not be traded.

“He (Hinkie) said he’d never trade me. It’s a business regardless, but a guy who really values you to a high standard. And then overnight, your life changes and you’re on the block and really uncertain about things and it changes your mindset on how you’re gonna approach things,” Noel said.

The Sixers are facing a difficult decision when it comes to Noel and Okafor. Noel could land a much better draft pick or player in a trade, but his game works better with Embiid’s. Okafor has looked listless this year after a strong rookie season. His lack of athleticism and ability to run the floor do not appear to be a strong match for the direction of the franchise.

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