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76ers trade Holiday to New Orleans get Noel

The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Talk about making a splash.

The Philadelphia 76ers pulled off a shocking trade during the NBA Draft on Thursday night, reportedly sending All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and the No. 42 overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans for the rights to University of Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and a lightly protected 2014 first-round pick.

"Jrue is shocked," Holiday's agent Tony Dutt told Yahoo! "He understands it as business as well. He's OK. It is what it is. Something we didn't expect."

Pelicans general manager Dell Demps cannot comment on the trade until it is approved by the NBA, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Presumably that means 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie cannot comment on the trade until then either.

Noel was projected to be the No. 1 overall selection but fell all the way to No. 6. He had his freshman season with the Wildcats cut short due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in February.

But Noel is expected back before the end of 2013, possibly in December. And he has a tremendous upside, which clearly intrigued the Sixers.

Noel was leading the country in blocked shots per game (4.4) at the time of his injury. Before tearing his ACL, Noel was the only player in the country taller than 6-foot-5 to rank in the top 30 in steals. He had 50 steals during the season.

Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.4 blocked shots and 2.1 steals in 32 minutes per game for the Wildcats.

Then, with the 11th overall pick, the Sixers drafted Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams. The sophomore guided Syracuse to the Final Four and set a school record for steals with 111.

Carter-Williams, 21, was named to the All-Big East Second Team and was one of 14 finalists for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding college player in the country, and one of five finalists for the Cousy Award, which goes to the best point guard in the nation. He scored in double figures in 30 of 40 career games played and ranked first on the Orange in assists (7.3) as a sophomore.

The Sixers still held the No. 35 overall pick.

After the Sixers went through the injury debacle with Andrew Bynum, who never played last season, the acquisition of Noel is a curious and gutsy move by new president and general manager Hinkie.

Hinkie was hired on May 14 after eight years with the Houston Rockets, most recently as vice president of basketball operations.

In addition to the flurry of moves, rumors swirled during the night that the Sixers reportedly had targeted San Antonio Spurs bench coach Brett Brown as their next head coach. Brown would replace Doug Collins, who recently resigned after three seasons.

The new coach was expected to continue to mentor Holiday, who was named to his first All-Star Game, becoming the youngest player in franchise history at 22 to accomplish the feat.

Holiday averaged team highs of 17.7 points and 8.0 assists. He had 20 double-doubles after registering just one the season before.

Now, he's gone.

Philadelphia's projected lineup for the 2013-14 season could be Carter-Williams and Evan Turner at guard, Thaddeus Young and Noel - when healthy - at forward with Spencer Hawes at center.

That's a young and talented group and a sign that Hinkie is pointing to the long-term success of the Sixers, who haven't won a championship since 1983 and haven't been to the Finals since the Allen Iverson-led team in 2001.
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