Nerlens Noel Expected to Rejoin Sixers This Week To Continue Rehab

The 76ers center is expected to rejoin the Sixers later this week to continue his rehab in Philadelphia, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Sixers center Nerlens Noel has expressed frustration over the team's frontcourt jogjam | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers center Nerlens Noel should be joining the team sometime this week. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Sixers center Nerlens Noel, who underwent surgery to repair an inflamed plica in his left knee on October 25th, is expected to return to Philadelphia later this week to continue his rehabilitation, a source with knowledge of the situation informed Philadelphia magazine.

Noel has been undergoing rehabilitation of the injury with Kevin Wilk of Champion Sports Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama up to this point. Noel had previously worked with Wilk when going through rehabilitation to return from the torn ACL he suffered in college.

The Sixers sent personnel down to Alabama to check on Noel at least twice over the last few weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Once Noel rejoins the Sixers he will resume his rehabilitation with the team, and his plan to return to basketball activity will be revised at that time.

Noel will not be ready to play immediately upon rejoining the team.

Set to be a restricted free agent next summer, Noel has yet to appear in a regular season game this year because of his injury.

Noel finished third in Rookie of the Year voting for the 2014-15 season, finishing behind Andrew Wiggins of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls. Noel finished his rookie campaign with averages of 9.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 blocked shots per game as a rookie. He came on especially strong in the second half of that season, averaging 13.0 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.9 assists with a 52.8 percent true shooting percentage after the All-Star break.

Noel followed that up by averaging 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.5 blocked shots per game during the 2015-16 season, his second healthy season in the NBA, getting much of his playing time at the power forward spot to accommodate the addition of rookie center Jahlil Okafor.

An ACL injury at Kentucky cost Noel the entirety of the 2013-14 season, which would have been his first in the NBA.

Noel voiced his unhappiness with the Sixers frontcourt situation before training camp began. “I think something needs to happen,” Noel said before the season.

The Sixers used top draft picks on natural centers in 2013 (Noel, 6th overall), 2014 (Joel Embiid, 3rd overall), and 2015 (Jahlil Okafor, 3rd overall). The Sixers also have second-year center Richaun Holmes fighting for minutes.

Earlier in the day Sixers head coach Brett Brown did not have an update on Noel, claiming that he was not the right person to ask about the situation.

Point guard Jerryd Bayless scrimmages with 87ers

Veteran point guard Jerryd Bayless, signed over the summer as a free agent from the Milwaukee Bucks, looks like he could be inching closer to a return.

Bayless injured his left wrist, his non-shooting hand, during training camp. The Sixers elected not to undergo surgery on the wrist.

The Sixers in the middle of a heavy portion of their schedule where they won’t have two days off in a row for over a month, which limits the number of practices the Sixers will conduct. For a player like Bayless looking to return from an injury, that hectic schedule can be counterproductive.

The Sixers used a brief two-game road trip to send Bayless down to the Delaware 87ers, their D-League affiliate, to get more practice time in. Bayless typically doesn’t travel with the team anyway, so when the ability to get more practice time came up, the team jumped on it.

“They’re playing every other day right now so it’s not like we have a lot of practice time that I can really get back into things,” Bayless said about the decision to go to Delaware. “[I’m] just trying to get some type of run in.”

Bayless said that no timetable has been discussed for his return.

“I feel good. So hopefully sooner rather than later,” Bayless said.

“You take for granted your wrist and how important it is until something like this happens,” Bayless explained. “Just getting to a point where I’m comfortable and able to do everything that I feel lke I should be able to do.”

Bayless did participate in a scrimmage while down with the 87ers, so it appears his return should be getting closer to becoming a reality.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.