Dr. Andrews clears Noel to practice

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The 76ers' Nerlens Noel. (Michael Perez/AP)

76ers rookie Nerlens Noel has been cleared by surgeon James Andrews to resume basketball-related activities. There’s a belief that Noel could be on the court after the NBA All-Star Game.

“His knee is fine,” a source close to the situation said Wednesday “He went to Dr. Andrews last week. He just needs to get in the basketball shape. Dr. Andrews said he suspects he will be ready to play in a game in four to six weeks.”

Andrews told ESPN.com that Noel is "doing excellent, and the team is taking good care of him."

The source said that the 6-foot-11 rookie center is waiting for the Sixers to clear him to play.   Noel had surgery after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in February during his lone season at Kentucky.

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There’s a thought that the Sixers don’t want to rush him onto the court. It also believed that they would be content if he missed the entire season. In October, coach Brett Brown said Noel was likely to miss the entire season.

However, Brown said Tuesday that Noel is making improvement. He also disclosed that the 19-year-old participated in one-on-one drills with player development Greg Foster on Tuesday.

The coach added that Noel isn’t ready to face teammates in a game of one-on-one. But he likes the former Wildcat's competitiveness.

Brown expects Noel to undergo growing pains once he gets on the court.

“He is not going to have game shape and then you are going to have to go against a Joakim Noah [of Chicago] and Tim Duncan [of San Antonio] and it’s going to take time,” Brown said. “Playing is playing.  You need to feel things and do things and see things, and he hasn’t done that.  So I think his timing is going to be way off, perhaps for awhile.”

The Sixers acquired Noel from New Orleans in a draft-day trade for all-star point guard Jrue Holiday. At the time, Noel was expected to be sidelined until December while he recovered from the injury.

 - Keith Pompey

Follow and contact Inquirer 76ers beat writer Keith Pompey @PompeyOnSixers

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