"I doubt, everybody doubts that he's going to play this year," Brown said before the Sixers played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. "We don't want to waste this year. I think from a skill perspective, it's an opportunity for us to break down his shot, really work on his free throws and start a little bit from ground zero."
It was not originally the Sixers' plan to sit Noel -- the No. 6 overall pick, who had surgery to repair the ACL in his left knee in March -- for the entire season. He suffered the injury Feb. 12 while playing for the Kentucky Wildcats.
The timetable for Noel's recovery was initially set for six to eight months, which was expected to allow him to return sometime in the middle of his rookie season.
Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, told ESPN in June that Noel was ahead of schedule.
"We're really happy with his progress," Andrews said at the time. "He's several weeks ahead of schedule on his rehab. He's improving on a weekly basis. He has a completely stable knee."
The Sixers slashed their payroll to the lowest in the league and left several holes on the roster with moves over the summer. The team is retooling for the future, and the conservative decision regarding Noel appears to follow that path.
Philadelphia acquired Noel and a protected 2014 first-round draft pick from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday. It was believed Noel slid on some draft boards because of concern over his knee.