Expect the volume to keep rising on questions about Luol Deng and where he fits with this team. In the first year of a four-year, $72 million deal, Deng is shooting 33 percent from the field and struggling to find his niche among all the Lakers’ youth and pace. Who knows what sort of market would await the Lakers even if they tried to trade him, but the topic seems unlikely to fade.
After Nerlens Noel participated in Sixers practice for the first time since undergoing elective arthroscopic knee surgery in October, there was a glaring question for the big man. Noel had expressed at the start of training camp he didn’t believe the Sixers’ frontcourt trio of Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and himself could work. So what did he think about the situation nearly 20 games into the season? “I don’t think the roster’s changed,” Noel said Thursday. “So, I don’t think the roster’s changed.”
Noel didn’t seem concerned that he wouldn’t fit back in with the team after being away for the start of the season. He envisions his role as simply “being Nerlens Noel.” What exactly that will entail will unfold this season. “I put myself in a different place with all these things,” Noel said. “Do what you can control. That’s what I give power to, is what I can really control. I think right now I’m in a good place mentally, I think my body feels great and I just want to get back to playing basketball and let things take care of themselves.”
When told about there being many folks in New England who wouldn’t mind if he played for the Celtics, Cousins responded, “I heard.” Because he has heard the trade rumors involving him for so many years, he doesn’t give them too much thought. “It is what it is,” said Cousins who added that he’s never talked to his representatives or the team’s front office about a potential trade in which his name was brought up. He added, “Most of the rumors come from people who want me on their team. It (trade rumors) doesn’t bother me.”
However, he does find one positive about the steady stream of trade rumors: It serves as a reminder of just how coveted the 6-foot-11 big man is around the league. “I do appreciate that,” said Cousins who quickly added, “but like I said, I’m a King. I’m good.”
“There’s a lot of talk that leads nowhere and groundwork that leads to something,” Ainge said in his weekly conversation with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “Teams are still trying to feel what their team is, what direction they’re headed, what the mix is, the fit.” And the Celtics are indeed one of those teams that he described.