The strange, difficult season of Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz just got a little stranger. David Aldridge of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Fultz is scheduled to see a shoulder specialist, and won’t play or practice with the Sixers until after that happens.
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
Raymond Brothers is also Fultz’s agent in addition to being his attorney.
76ers general manager Elton Brand “seemed amused” as to why Fultz’s appointment won’t be taking place until early next week, too.
“I don’t know how long he’s going to be out,” Brand said, via ESPN. “I know Monday is the consultation. I asked, ‘Why Monday?’ He said, ‘It was the best day they could get an appointment.’
“I thought they might move it up for him, but I guess not. So Monday is the appointment, and after that we’ll know more.”
Fultz, the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, spent the majority of his 2017-18 debut season out of commission due to a shoulder injury. But at the same time, some speculated that he simply had the yips, or that a non-Sixers coach tinkering with his shooting mechanics backfired.
Fultz spent a significant amount of time working with shooting coach Drew Hanlen over the recent offseason, and was expected to return stronger than ever. But so far, he’s looked tentative and lost, and sometimes even downright weird. The plot thickened even further recently when a report surfaced that Fultz and Hanlen had parted ways and were no longer on speaking terms.
The timing of this announcement shouldn’t be ignored. The night before Aldridge tweeted the news from Fultz’s agent and attorney, Fultz was benched in the second half of the Sixers’ game against the Phoenix Suns. T.J. McConnell took his place and helped lead the team to 119-114 victory. And just a week before that, Fultz lost his starting spot when the Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler. There’s just less room on the floor for a player that’s struggling so mightily, especially with the team moving out of rebuilding mode and into win mode.
Fultz has played in 19 games this season, and is averaging 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game over 22.5 minutes. It’s not clear if Fultz has a lingering shoulder injury that is still inhibiting his play, or if his agent is seeking a clean bill of heath to finally quiet the persistent questions about whether Fultz is still hurt. Either way, it’s a decent bet that the Fultz-Sixers saga will somehow get more bizarre before we see the end of it.
Fult’z departure caught Brett Brown “off guard”
Brand and 76ers coach Brett Brown said the news that Fultz won’t be playing while he gets his shoulder looked at took them by surprise.
“There’s nothing we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play,” Brand said on Tuesday, via ESPN. “He played last night. He played two days ago. Ever since Jimmy Butler came [last week] and [Fultz] wasn’t starting, I thought he played pretty well. I was proud of him the way he bounced back from a lot of things.”
While the timing could be seen by some as suspect — as it comes right after Butler’s arrival and the day after he was benched in the second half — Brand wasn’t willing to go that far.
“The timing is what it is,” Brand said, via ESPN. “I can’t say there’s a direct correlation. I don’t want to speculate. That’s unfair to him. But I got the call this morning, and I let Coach Brown know, and let my staff know.”
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