COMMON CENTS! SIXERS NEED TO TRADE NOEL OR GET NOTHING WHEN HE LEAVES AS A FREE AGENT!

By Marj Gallagher

I know why Sixers fans want to trade Jahlil Okafor and keep rim protector extraordinaire Nerlens Noel.

But the business of the NBA is a major speed bump in that thinking.

Noel will become a free agent this summer and unless the Sixers sign him to a max contract they will lose him and get nothing in return.

Noel will become a restricted free agent July 1 if the Sixers give him a $5.85 million qualifying offer. That would enable them to have three days to match another team’s offer sheet. Otherwise, he would be unrestricted.

Noel is filling an important spot for the Sixers this season. With Joel Embiid limited to 28 minutes, he’s handling the bulk of the remaining minutes in the middle and typically handling a bigger role in the games in which Embiid doesn’t appear (18 so far).

But with Embiid eventually projected to play 36 minutes a night, would it make sense to match a four-year, $70 million or $80 million offer for Noel when there might only be 12 minutes per game available for him?

If you think Noel’s not worth that kind of money in today’s market, remember backup big man Bismack Biyombo signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Magic last summer and limited center Timofey Mozgov got a four-year, $64 million deal from the Lakers.

And the salary cap is expected to increase from its current $94.1 million to $102 million next season, so clubs would have more money available.

Colangelo is willing to spend, but he’s said he’d want it to be for a difference-maker. Would Noel make enough of a difference in such a limited role?

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