Sixers Notes: Nerlens Noel Returning to Philly Soon?; Injury Updates

Nerlens Noel has been in Birmingham, Ala. rehabbing from surgery for localized soreness associated with inflamed plica (left knee).

According to multiple reports, he is expected to return to Philadelphia this week to continue his recovery at the Sixers' training complex in Camden, N.J. He has been rehabbing under Kevin Wilk, associate clinical director at Champion Sports Medicine.

When asked about Noel prior to Wednesday’s game, Brett Brown did not to speak on medical issues. 

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“I'm not the guy to ask,” Brown said. “It would be Dr. David Martin (director of performance research and development). One of the things that we're trying to do, because we have so much -- sadly -- to talk about as it relates to injury and returning players, return-to-play-type questions, those people are better suited to answer that question.”

Noel had been receiving treatment for a left adductor strain when he reported soreness in his left knee. The team has not announced a timetable for his return. 

Bayless ‘progressing’ from wrist injury
Jerryd Bayless worked toward his return from a left wrist injury by spending two days assigned to the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. He does not have a date to return. 

This week he ran through drills with the Sevens and scrimmaged “a little bit” at their practices, held at the Sixers' training complex.

In regard to being pain-free, Bayless said Wednesday, “I wouldn't say that. I'm feeling better though. I'm definitely feeling better and just progressing. It's a good thing.”

Bayless suffered the injury during training camp and has yet to play. He was the projected starting point guard after signing a multi-year deal with the Sixers this offseason.

“I need to be able to handle the ball and everything that kind of comes with that,” Bayless said. “You take for granted your wrist and how important it is until something like this happens.”

The Sixers are in a game-heavy portion of their schedule with few days available for practice. The D-League assignment helped Bayless “get back into it,” as he put it. 

Bayless said he and the team are discussing whether or not he will have future assignments. Brown is in favor of the collaboration. 

“It's the very first time we've been able to use our facility and really tap into the D-League affiliation where we can bring them to us,” Brown said. “You can let Jerryd, in his own backyard, play good basketball up and down. To see him play, to see him get up and down the floor, you leave thinking that is a real significant piece to what we're missing. We look forward to getting him back ... We're all hoping it's not that far away.”

Okafor cleared for back-to-backs
Of all the Sixers who have faced injuries this season, Jahlil Okafor is the furthest along. Okafor aggravated his right knee, on which he had meniscus surgery in March, during training camp. His minutes in a single-game scenario have increased to 24 per game.

Okafor made another step by being cleared to play back to back on Wednesday at home and Thursday on the road in Minnesota with lesser minutes in the second game. 

“I think it’s between 16 and 20,” Brown said of Okafor’s restriction against the Timberwolves. “Normally when they tell me that, I don’t even hear 16.”

Okafor played 20 minutes against the Wizards before fouling out in the fourth quarter (see game recap). He scored a team-high 19 points (8 for 11 from the field) with five rebounds and two assists. Okafor said Brown had challenged him to be more aggressive, and the second-year big man responded. 

“I just thought he played a really deliberate game, a quicker game, he was into the game,” Brown said. “I thought he really came in and helped us get a big win.”

Joel Embiid did not play on Wednesday against the Wizards. He will play Thursday against the Timberwolves. 

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