February 07, 2019
The Markelle Fultz Era has officially come to an end in Philadelphia, and what a long strange trip it's been.
There have been ups and (mostly) downs in this saga, but it's no longer the Sixers problem as they look to build a championship contending team for the foreseeable future after making a blockbuster deal to acquire Tobias Harris a day before trading Fultz to the Magic in exchange for Jonathon Simmons and a pair of picks.
But before completely moving on, let's take one more look back at how the Sixers went from trading up to acquire Fultz with the first-overall pick to shipping him off to Orlando after he appeared in just 33 games for the team.
Here's a full look at Fultz's Sixers career, from start to finish and everything in between...
After all of the trade rumors involving the Philadelphia 76ers moving down, Bryan Colangelo and the front office decided to go the other way. The Sixers made a franchise-changing move on Saturday in one way or another, striking a deal with the Boston Celtics for the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and Markelle Fultz.
In return, Philadelphia is sending the following: the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and, well, one of the weirdest protected picks in the history of the NBA. [MORE]
It didn't go well.
So, how did Fultz shoot? Like Phillip Seymour Hoffman in "Along Came Polly."
Yep, Fultz threw up a bunch of bricks. Was it only like 20 shots? Yep. Was he probably a little tired from the trip up I-95 from Maryland? He didn’t think so. Was he probably a little nervous with all of the attention? I don’t know. But yeah, he shot poorly from what we saw.
Obviously, the on-court work was by far the least important part of Fultz’s trip. The Sixers mostly want to talk to him and get his medical information. [MORE]
But it obviously went well enough, because...
The Process has taken four seasons, and the Sixers look like they’re about to start seeing some results.
To the surprise of the nobody, the Philadelphia 76ers selected University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Fultz will join an exciting young Sixers core with Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and a slew of other young players. [MORE]
After agreeing to a new contract, Maryland native Kevin Durant took to Twitter to chime in on Fultz:
Fultz got some 💩 with him. The hesi pull-up jimbo was smooth. Probably don't understand what I just said if u don't REALLY hoop— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 4, 2017
Even if I’m not quite sure what a “Jimbo” is (I’m going to assume “jumper,” but hey, I might not REALLY hoop), Fultz looked pretty smooth en route to his 17 points (6-16 FG), 2 rebounds, 1 assist (to four turnovers), 3 blocks and a steal. I always look back at Evan Turner’s first summer league as a barometer, specifically ET really struggling to create his own shot. Turner ended up making a nice living in the NBA, but he never turned into a franchise shooting guard. [MORE]
The Sixers and their prized draft pick made it official Saturday.
Markelle Fultz is set to make $5.8 million next season, but the Maryland native will likely see 20 percent more, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. [MORE]
Source tells PhillyVoice it's a 'traditional sprain' and he could return in a week or two...
A team source confirmed that Fultz suffered a lateral ankle sprain, not a high ankle sprain as was originally reported by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. In fact, team doctors did not fear the injury to be a high ankle sprain, and Shelburne's colleague Marc J. Spears was the first to report that it was a traditional sprain earlier on Sunday. [MORE]
“Markelle has made some personal adjustments to his shot since we last saw him in Vegas, we’ve done stuff with him but really he’s been with his personal trainer over the month of August and since Summer League ended,” said Brown. “He chose to look at some different things on his shot, heart’s in the right place, trying to improve. Slowly, we’re coming back into it and trying to recalibrate and get it back.” [MORE]
But Fultz denied making any big changes.
Fultz himself downplayed the importance of the experiment we’re watching unfold before our eyes, insisting he has been doing light tinkering more than he is committing to any radical changes to his game.
“It was just something going on where I wanted to try something new, but my free throw’s going to look the same as college. I’m just trying to look at different ways to see how the ball can go in the hoop,” said Fultz. He stressed that his primary point-of-emphasis has been on getting ready for a deeper three-point line, and improving his proficiency as an off-ball threat. “This is a further three, so just [getting ready to] catch-and-shoot. You’ve got great people here—Ben, JJ, everybody—so you’ve got to be ready to catch-and-shoot whenever you’re open.” [MORE]
How are you supposed to focus on big-picture problems and solutions when the No. 1 overall pick, the player you made a trade with a hated rival to obtain, has stopped taking the shots that made him such a dangerous offensive player?
The "stopped taking" part of that sentence can't be stressed enough. Were this a case of Fultz missing shots, people would be up in arms, but it could at least be explained on some level. Where we're at now would have been unfathomable a few short months ago. He's going through the usual rookie growing pains at the moment, inconsistent as you might expect. The only consistent thing is the absence of a scorer's mentality. [MORE]
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Fultz had his shoulder drained will seek the help of a specialist.
"Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder," [Fultz's] agent Raymond Brothers told ESPN. "He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent."
No decision has been made for Fultz to miss games, league sources said.
Fultz had the shoulder drained prior to start of the regular season, which caused him to miss the end of the Sixers' preseason schedule, Brothers said. [MORE]
How banged up is Markelle Fultz's shoulder right now? That's a question that remains difficult to answer. The Sixers remain firm that he's dealing with shoulder soreness, and shoulder soreness alone, but the rookie guard is now expected to miss at least the next three weeks as a result of whatever is happening with his shoulder.
As I reported on Saturday night, Fultz was in Lexington, KY this weekend to consult with another shoulder specialist about what's ailing him. He was joined by members of the Sixers' medical team, per a source, and the team confirmed the visit in a press release they dropped shortly after the Eagles wrapped up on Sunday. [MORE]
We haven't seen him shoot a right-handed jumper since October, and we've had to follow along on Instagram as he traveled back and forth from Philadelphia to Lexington, KY. But from the sound of things, Markelle Fultz is on the verge of breaking back into the Sixers' lineup sometime soon, and we may finally get to see why the Sixers traded up for the No. 1 pick to begin with. [MORE]
Sixers fans have been waiting for a comprehensive update on rookie guard Markelle Fultz for some time. They are still waiting for one in 2018, but the Washington product made his return to (visible) practice on Tuesday, and that in itself is a big deal. [MORE]
A timetable for Markelle Fultz's return to the court remains elusive. But for those searching for any sign of a Fultz comeback, the Sixers provided a notable update on Sunday afternoon: their No. 1 pick is back on the court and playing full-contact, five-on-five basketball...
It was the first time since the team said his shoulder returned to 100 percent on December 9 that Fultz has been able to participate in team activities to that degree. The speed of his progress also appears to be ramping up rather quickly, as Fultz was only involved in halfcourt four-on-four drills as of last Tuesday. [MORE]
Bryan Colangelo was asked about whether Fultz's range would be a determining factor for when he stepped on the court.
"I think he's got to feel right, and we've got to feel right ... Everything within a certain range, it's beautiful," said Colangelo. When pressed on what the range currently is, Colangelo offered a revealing answer: "It's within the paint basically. Paint shots, perimeter shots are kind of where you draw a line. But anything instinctive going to the hole, talk about shot creation and what he's able to do just some of the rise ups, it's nice to see."
Of all the things we've seen and heard over the last six months, this may be the most preposterous. A player who was seen taking step-back, NBA-range threes (and making them!) as recently as July now has his range limited to shots within the paint. He went from a guard drawing comparisons to Kyrie Irving coming out of college, to a 6'4" Ben Simmons without the same size and athleticism to overcome the lack of shooting. [MORE]
PhillyVoice's Kyle Neubeck publishes in-depth look at what's really been going on with Markelle Fultz in the nine months since the team drafted him. If you read any of the stories in here, make it this one...
Over the course of the last six months, PhillyVoice has spoken to people in, around, and connected to the Sixers about what is going on with the kid who was supposed to be the final piece of their puzzle. What is most striking is the degree to which opinions on Fultz’s shot diverge depending on who it is you ask. Doctors explain how unprecedented this is for a basketball player, staffers point the finger at outside influences, and his own GM says publicly his range does not currently extend beyond the paint.
All the while our subject in question remains silent, retweeting videos of what his shot used to look like as an avalanche of criticism floods his Twitter mentions.
Markelle Fultz is surrounded by sound and fury. And once you begin to understand that, the disappearance of his jumper makes a lot more sense. [MORE]
Yahoo's Pat Forde and Pete Thamel unveiled a comprehensive report on Friday morning, detailing payments made to dozens of current or former NCAA basketball stars by former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency, ASM Sports. The list includes current lottery prospects like Michigan State's Miles Bridges, Alabama's Colin Sexton, and Duke's Wendell Carter, and spans across dozens of blue-blood programs around the country.
In the part pertinent to Sixers fans, one of the names in the report is none other than Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick who has been out of action since late October. Documents obtained by Yahoo detail what appears to be a $10,000 loan to Fultz, in addition to a cavalcade of other young players. [MORE]
"It was his decision," said Brown. "I get goosebumps telling you all that. I'm so proud of him, and the people around him have done great things. I give that kid credit, he will be with us tonight."
Fultz's role is expected to be as the primary backup to Ben Simmons early on, with the (other) rookie assuming lead ballhandling duties on the second unit. His minute count will be fluid, in what Brown described as a "drip feed" from now through the end of the season. [MORE]
Fultz had a solid game, going for 10 points, eight assists and four rebounds in just over 14 minutes. After the game, however, Fultz gave the silent treatment when asked about his shoulder injury. But he answered every other question.
If you wanted a single sequence that summed up Philadelphia's dream 2017-18 season, you got it with just over a minute to go in the final game of the year. One rebound away from a triple-double, rookie guard Markelle Fultz soared through the air toward a Brandon Jennings miss, coming down with the rebound over Milwaukee's Thon Maker. The Wells Fargo Center erupted, showering the kid whose jumper went missing with the sort of love that usually takes years to earn.
But it was the reaction on the floor that mattered most. T.J. McConnell, the guy who has seen his role shrink since Fultz's return, was the first Sixers player to hunt down his teammate on the floor, half-hugging, half-attacking his peer under the basket. He was engulfed by his teammates, who have a much better understanding than most do just how much it took for Fultz to get back on the court at all. [MORE]
Underneath all those positives and all that success is a major storyline — the No. 1 overall pick, the kid you made a deal with a longtime rival to acquire, not being able to even get on the court in a playoff series? It would have seemed just as impossible last June as all the great things the Sixers have accomplished since.
But here we are, with the Sixers preparing for Game 2 of a playoff series, and Markelle Fultz is firmly on the outside looking in. [MORE]
When the Sixers made the move to trade up for the No. 1 overall pick last summer, their vision probably looked something like this: with the game on the line in a 2018 playoff game, they would have a perimeter player you could clear the floor for, and count on him to create a good look for your offense all by his lonesome.
The problem, then, is that the guy who is doing that right now is Jayson Tatum, the player your division rival has standing across from you in a playoff series. That would be bad enough if the Celtics just so happened to stumble upon a gem with their top pick, but he will forever be connected to the Sixers because of the draft trade that guaranteed Markelle Fultz's arrival in Philadelphia.
We're a long way away from knowing what Tatum and Fultz are going to be when they hit their respective peaks, but as this series has unfolded, it gets harder and harder to sweep under the rug that one draftee is thriving, while one collects dust on the bench. [MORE]
During an appearance on the Talking Schmidt Podcast — which claims to be about "the best stories and sports takes from Columbia to St. Louis and beyond" — Hanlen went in depth on the problems facing Fultz, and he put a name on the problem many people have discussed for months: "the yips."
"With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the YIPS of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot. So for me it was, hey listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year’s draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?" ...
This is the first person that could loosely be defined as "inner circle" with Fultz to put the yips designation on the problem publicly. Plenty of people have danced around it, but that's a pretty strong stance out of the gate. [MORE]
After deliberation between various parties involved in his summer program, it has been determined that Sixers guard Markelle Fultz will not participate in Summer League, a team source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Saturday evening.
Fultz's participation in the summer event has been a hotly-debated topic in Philadelphia over the last month or two... But with Fultz in the middle of a development program with skills trainer Drew Hanlen, the Sixers have opted to let him stay the course there, rather than throw him into a different environment midstream, a source told PhillyVoice. [MORE]
Give this to basketball trainer Drew Hanlen — he sure knows how to market his product. With the St. Louis native in charge of workout programs for several prominent Sixers this summer, including Markelle Fultz and center Joel Embiid, he has done everything in his power to leave Philadelphia hanging on his every word.
Case and point: with just four words on Twitter on Sunday evening, Hanlen caused a bit of an uproar.
"Sixers fans... Get excited!" [MORE]
So, Brett Brown came out before tonight's game and dropped a reasonably big story on us — Markelle Fultz will start in place of JJ Redick tonight, and it certainly sounds like the partnership of he and Simmons is going to be given a chance to start right out the gate in the regular season.
Asked by PhillyVoice about how things would look, Brown launched into an extensive answer on the reasoning for doing so and the behind-the-scenes machinations that put it in motion. [MORE]
Prior to Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic, we had already seen quite a bit from Markelle Fultz if you track back through last season. But even with all he showed (good and bad) as a free-throw shooter, a mid-range marksman, a playmaker, a defender, and so forth, it was hard not to notice the elephant in the room. The kid who had been trigger happy from deep at the University of Washington was downright disinterested in taking threes.
At least he was, until he finally showed a shooter's mentality from downtown on Monday night. It was a sleepy night at the Wells Fargo Center, but Fultz's shooting gave everyone a little life. [MORE]
Normally, with Ben Simmons dropping a triple-double in three quarters and Joel Embiid scoring 30 points in a blowout win, the focus of all postgame commentary would have been on Philadelphia's stars righting the ship against a bad Bulls team. Maybe those two guys doing those two things against that team qualifies as business as usual.
No, the chatter after the game was about Markelle Fultz, the 20-year-old whose every shot is scrutinized. It was a roller coaster evening for the Washington product, who began the game ignoring the three-point line and ended it hearing loud cheers after a strong closing period. [MORE]
Hanlen would later delete this tweet:
PhillyVoice conducted discussions with numerous people in the know on Monday afternoon, and the consensus is that Fultz is not dealing with any issue beyond what a normal NBA player faces during an 82-game season.
Philadelphia is coming off a stretch where they played five games in seven days, and Fultz has continued to play a fairly prominent role in the team during this loaded part of the schedule. Separate discussions took place between members of the Sixers' organization, Hanlen, and Fultz after Hanlen's tweet surfaced on Monday, PhillyVoice has been told, and there is no indication of an underlying concern that would impact Fultz's ability to contribute. [MORE]
This is worse than we have ever seen Fultz's free throw form look. pic.twitter.com/FhCYpNpd5b— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 13, 2018
Jon Johnson (94 WIP): I hate to ask you this on such a day; a lot was made last night about Markelle Fultz's free throw. Did you see it? What was your reaction?
Brand: I saw the free throw, for sure. I've been seeing him work this summer, and all of this season, and he has times where something like that happens. But following that, he shot it very well and it looked very fluid. He's going to have some ups and downs. He's going to have more ups than downs. You saw the talent level in flashes, how talented he is.
Kevin Kinkead (Crossing Broad): Elton, is he still working with Drew Hanlen? There was a report last night that he and Drew were no longer on speaking terms.
Brand: I'm not sure about that. We have our coaching staff here and he's working with our coaching staff. But there's a window from before 9 a.m. and after 4 p.m. that you can work with outside trainers in our facility, but I'm not sure about that. [MORE]
Markelle Fultz is no longer a starter for the Sixers. After all the hemming and hawing from Brett Brown about the experiment with Fultz and Ben Simmons being driven by, "gut feel," all it took was a major addition to make it clear changes were necessary.
According to The Athletic's Rich Hofmann, who is on the ground in Orlando for Jimmy Butler's debut, Brown claims Fultz, "has done nothing wrong" to warrant the move. [MORE]
A report earlier this week claimed the source of Markelle Fultz’s shooting woes and shoulder issues last year was a motorcycle accident, that was covered up in order to protect Fultz...
In a phone conversation with PhillyVoice conducted Thursday afternoon, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, vehemently denied the allegation.
“Markelle and the motorcycle, I saw the article that was sent, 100 percent not true,” said Brothers. “Quote me on that." [MORE]
This would turn out to be the last time Markelle Fultz played in a game for the Sixers.
There was a moment at the end of the first half when Markelle Fultz was set to check into the game with :27 seconds on the clock. The young guard stood puzzled near midcourt, seemingly confused about who he was supposed to come in for, and even after being announced by PA announcer Matt Cord, Fultz was yanked back to the bench by an animated Brown. The coach instead sent T.J. McConnell in, and home crowd responded with thunderous applause.
On its own, perhaps not noteworthy. But Brown turned to McConnell once again for all of the backup point guard minutes in the second half, leaving Fultz in cold storage after a disappointing effort in seven first-half minutes. [MORE]
Markelle Fultz will see a shoulder specialist next week at the behest of his agent, Raymond Brothers, according to a report from David Aldridge of The Athletic...
At the direction of his attorney, Raymond Brothers, @MarkelleF is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist early next week. Per Brothers, Fultz will not participate in team practices or games until after the the specialist has had a chance to evaluate him.— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) November 20, 2018
Brothers would not offer a comment on the situation to PhillyVoice but confirmed via text that Aldridge's report is accurate.
To say the timing is curious would be an understatement. [MORE]
The timing was odd because just a night earlier, Fultz was seemingly benched for T.J. McConnell. Making matters worse, the team was totally caught off guard by this decision.
Given the nature of how the organization found out about this, the GM's visible annoyance with the situation, and the obvious dot connecting that even Brown couldn't dismiss, I would say there's still a lot more to be uncovered here.
The bottom line is this — even if the aim here is to rectify a legitimate issue Fultz is dealing with, shoulder or otherwise, the process to get here is so shoddy and so ill-timed that the public now has more reason trust the most criticized medical staff in the league than they do the player who will sit out (or maybe not) until further notice.
You actually feel for the Sixers. They gave starter's minutes to a player who had done little to earn them to start the season, and at the first sign of the team starting to put the collective ahead of him — and rightfully so — the people around him pushed the panic button, putting them in an unwinnable situation. [MORE]
Throughout the process of figuring out exactly what's going on, a source told PhillyVoice that Fultz has seen over 10 specialists and that the root cause of the various symptoms (most pertinently the wonky shooting mechanics) remains an unknown.
According to a source who spoke to PhillyVoice, the indefinite timetable is being used as a stand-in because the team simply can't pinpoint an accurate window for the issue(s) at hand. Unlike something like say, a bone break, this centers around Fultz's tolerance threshold and level of discomfort rather than something as clear as a clean X-ray. [MORE]
... but a return to the lineup didn't sound promising, even then.
Speaking with team sources on Saturday afternoon, PhillyVoice has learned that beyond Fultz's return to the lineup, the Sixers remain uncertain of when they can expect Fultz to return even to a team practice setting. From their purview, Fultz's return to the Philadelphia area is strictly to continue his physical therapy, with the subsequent steps in his return to play yet to be determined.
While Fultz's return to the franchise will be welcomed as a positive sign by many, the uncertainty regarding his status speaks to the unorthodox nature of this situation. The Sixers, other than having a team representative monitoring his progress on the West Coast, have been operating at the discretion of Fultz and his agent, Raymond Brothers.
To that end, the Sixers remain uncertain of what this means for Fultz's presence around the team even in the immediate term. Late next week, the Sixers will depart for a trip out west, beginning with a game against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, January 26. At this time, team officials would not commit to Fultz traveling with the team in any capacity, even in street clothes, claiming it's, "too early to tell." [MORE]
The biggest takeaway from this was that Fultz was going to be joining his teammates on their West Coast road trip, but as Kyle Neubeck pointed out at the time, that hardly meant the Sixers guard was any closer to a return to the court.
First things first — it's definitely a positive that Fultz will continue to do whatever work it is he's doing behind-the-scenes while keeping up with his team on the road trip. Prior to Fultz's return, Brown and the Sixers were most excited just to have him back with his teammates, not to play him but to simply have him around the group again. That he can get his PT done without having to stay home or head back out to L.A. is a good thing.
Still, Brown's train of thought upon Fultz's return last Saturday was that he wanted to see what kind of shape Fultz was in upon returning. That the coach isn't able to commit to having him, "running around, shooting around" while on the road trip, based on the information he has been given by the various parties involved, doesn't exactly suggest we're anywhere close to a return here. [MORE]
When Brown was asked whether the team could count on Fultz as part of their projections of what they have for the stretch run, however, he did not offer a firm commitment:
DAVID MURPHY, Philly.com: When you do those projections, do you have Markelle Fultz penciled in there as far as that rotation?
BRETT BROWN (clarifying): Do I have Markelle Fultz what?
MURPHY: When you're projecting what you might need for the playoffs and the composition of your bench or rotation, are you planning on Markelle being in there?
BROWN: I mean right now we haven't seen Markelle for how long? And we all understand his progression back to the court has been sort of managed in a slow-type fashion. So I think with Markelle, I mean I hear your question, but right now I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised with how he arrives back with us, more than assume he's going to be there. I think it's not smart for me to think like that. [MORE]
The Markelle Fultz Era in Philly has officially come to an end. In return for Fultz, the Sixers got Jonathon Simmons, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.
Regardless of what happens at his next stop in Orlando, he will forever be remembered as the piece they got back in a trade with their archrival Boston Celtics, which allowed the Celtics to pick up an extra asset on top of selecting Jayson Tatum in the 2017 Draft. A move that was viewed as a slam-dunk fit at the time spiraled into madness, leaving us where we are today.
With Philadelphia pushing their chips in to compete right now, Fultz's fate in this town was sealed as soon as they made the move to trade for Tobias Harris. The Sixers will have to rely on cheap production from developing first-round picks while building around an expensive core, but they need those players to be at least semi-reliable. With Fultz's return to the lineup a constant mystery and the recent distance put between his camp and the team, there was no certainty that Philadelphia could rely on him to produce or simply be available when they needed him.
Team sources worried about these sort of things behind the scenes, while Brett Brown came out and said the Sixers could not count on him being part of their playoff rotation heading into the deadline. Fultz was scheduled to make almost $10 million next season, and with salary implications more important to this team than ever, they decided it was not worth the risk to keep Fultz around until the summer. [MORE]
Now, Fultz heads off to Orlando, where he'll start the next chapter of his young career...
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