NBA Rumors: There's a 'Real Chance' Nerlens Noel Returns to Sixers

Will Nerlens Noel make the process come full circle?
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Nerlens Noel was all about the process before everything started coming together. The veteran center started his career with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2013. After becoming the sixth-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Kentucky prospect was shipped off to the Sixers in the trade that landed the New Orleans Pelicans Jrue Holiday. 

Although an injury kept him off the floor until 2014, Noel would play and start for two full seasons before Philly shipped him off to Dallas during the 2016-2017 season following Sam Hinkie's days in control. When he left the Sixers, Noel obtained a role coming off the bench for the Mavericks. After a lukewarm stint with the Mavs, Noel signed a two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Noel appeared in 138 games for the Thunder over the last two seasons. He averaged six points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks. He never lived up to the hype of being a star after getting drafted just outside of the top five years ago, but Noel has been recognized as one of the better backup centers in the league.

This offseason, Noel is a free agent for the first time in two years. As the Thunder are looking to rebuild, the 26-year-old center is looking for a team that's ready to compete. Recently, the Sixers have lost two big men. On Wednesday night, Al Horford was shipped off to OKC, and on Friday, Philly plans to waive Norvel Pelle.

Those moves create a vacant position at backup center, which could reportedly become Noel's job soon. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, "there's a real chance" Noel could reunite with the Sixers this season. 

Rumors aside, let's not forget about the cryptic Facebook post from last week, which showed Noel dunking a ball during his time with the Sixers with a caption that read "can't wait to be back." Mix that in with the fact that the Houston Rockets, when led by Daryl Morey, attempted to trade for Noel just last season. 

As we know, Morey didn't land Noel via trade when he was with the Rockets. Perhaps, the Sixers' new President of Basketball Operations gets the veteran center to sign with the 76ers instead this offseason.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_