Magic coach: 'It would be very difficult for Markelle Fultz to get back this year'

Vinciane NgomsiYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/teams/orlando/" data-ylk="slk:Orlando Magic">Orlando Magic</a> guard <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/5763/" data-ylk="slk:Markelle Fultz">Markelle Fultz</a> might not return to playing potential this year. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz might not return to playing potential this year. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz hasn’t returned to the court since being sidelined in November with thoracic outlet syndrome, a sprain that affects the nerves between the neck and shoulder. Magic head coach Steve Clifford had faith the 20-year-old, who was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline, would play again this season. But it appears Fultz’s injury is more significant than he thought.

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Clifford spoke with Jared Greenberg and Brendan Haywood on SiriusXM NBA Radio Monday and admitted that Fultz likely won’t play again this season due to his shoulder.

“I don’t think so,” Clifford said. “He’s still rehabbing his shoulder and he’s not even able to really do much on the floor yet. It’s a pretty significant shoulder injury.

I would say he’s starting to do a little bit, but it would be very difficult for him to get back this year,” Clifford continued.

Back in February, Fultz spoke candidly about his condition, and revealed some of the adverse side effects of his injury.

It’s really hard to describe, hard to explain to people. It’s almost like hard to lift up your arms. You lose feeling in your fingers. It’s not really like you can tell when it’s going to happen. It’s not like you can do the same motion every time. You get tingling in your fingers, numbness, stuff like that. It was hard to describe. It’s tough, because you hear all this stuff about this, that and the third, but you know something’s wrong and you’re trying to figure it out. It was just hard to describe to a lot of people. If you’ve never been through it, you’re not going to really know. But if you talk to anybody who has TOS, they’re going to tell you it changes your life [dramatically].

Even if the Maryland native’s return isn’t imminent, the Magic front office remain hopeful Fultz’s future in Orlando would be a long-term success.

I can definitely say it’s a high reward. There’s no question that it’s a high reward,” President of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said following the trade on February 8. “Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 pick in the draft two years ago and it wasn’t a fluke. I think the whole league had him there.”

Prior to his injury, Fultz was averaging just 8.2 points in 19 games this season.

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