There are three ESPN insiders/staff writers that know the current Portland Trail Blazers better than most; Kevin Pelton, Chris Haynes, and Kevin Arnovitz. Each is well-connected in the organization, and each has now suggested that the team is not, or perhaps should not be, interested in trading for Philadelphia 76ers forward-center Nerlens Noel.
Chat with Kevin Pelton (Pelton) – Dec. 16, 2016
Until actually looking at the numbers for the piece I wrote about how the Blazers defended Russell Westbrook, I just assumed the Blazers were struggling to defend the rim given their overall poor defense. In fact, they're second in the league in this regard. Now, I think this is somewhat more about their defensive scheme than Plumlee individually, but at minimum it suggests he is capable of playing his role in that scheme. I don't see the urgency to bring in, say, Nerlens Noel.
Bad summer still a bummer for struggling Trail Blazers (Haynes) - Jan. 4, 2017
A trade for Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins or disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel could help the team, but sources say they are not on Portland's radar.
Buying and selling in Portlandia (Arnovitz) - Jan. 19, 2017
The character issue doesn’t fit in Portland. I don’t think they’re into (Noel).
Noel, 22, has been sought after by those eager to fix Portland’s interior defense, and a move does make a certain degree of sense, but it may simply be that the Trail Blazers are angling for a different trade. Despite Noel’s desire to play elsewhere, the 76ers’ motivation to trade him, and the Trail Blazers’ need, the fit is not right.
Make no mistake, sitting at a disappointing 18-26 with several solid players on movable contracts and a couple first-round picks, the Trail Blazers are expected to be buyers at the February 23 deadline— whether that means a look at Noel or not.