PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers want Markelle Fultz back this season, but only when the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft is comfortable that he’s regained his shooting stroke.
Coach Brett Brown said before Saturday night’s game against Minnesota that it would take Fultz telling the team’s he’s ready to play before a decision is made on his status for the rest of the regular season and playoffs.
“There’s no clandestine conspiracy theory motive,” Brown said. “You know what I know. It’s fluid.”
Fultz played four games in October and shot 9-of-27 from the field and didn’t attempt a 3-pointer. The Sixers then shut down the 19-year-old with what they called “soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder.”
Fultz has long since returned to practice, but is still working on his shooting form. Video from workouts in January showed Fultz awkwardly pushing the ball from his chest. It appears his stroke has improved, but he missed his 68th consecutive game Saturday.
“I think he is quite close,” Brown said Fultz, who has declined to speak to reporters. “I think if we’d all watch the video we’d all probably agree with that.”
The Sixers traded with Boston to move up to the No. 1 spot in the draft last June to take the University of Washington star in hopes he’d be the missing piece on a promising team that includes young stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
Fultz scoring off the dribble and creating his own shot haven’t materialized. Still, the Sixers were closing in on their first playoff berth in six years and aren’t giving up hope on their 6-foot-4 guard even though after Saturday there are only 10 games left in the regular season.
“It’s just something that when Markelle Fultz feels like he can go – he really feels good about himself and his health, the shoulder, everything and the medical people support that — he knows that he has a coaching staff and a team that will welcome him in when he says go,” Brown said. “He also understands the season is around the corner in terms of the end of the regular season. That’s where it’s at.”
Delon Wright made some big plays down the stretch to help the Raptors to a Game 5 win over the Wizards last night. With Toronto up 3-2 in the first-round series and the home team winning the first five games, Game 6 is tomorrow in Washington.
Oubre, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:
“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”
Wright decided not to escalate the conflict when reporters asked him about it.
Wright has been much better in Toronto than Washington in this series. His average game score is 14.7 at home and 5.7 on the road.
But that’s such a small sample. During the regular season, there wasn’t nearly such a big split between Wright’s average game score at home (8.4) and on the road (6.9).
For what it’s worth, Oubre has a somewhat similar home-road average-game-score split, both in this series (9.4 at home, 6.3 on the road) and during the regular season (8.1 at home, 7.5 on the road). Which Oubre basically acknowledged in his diss of Wright/self-own.
This is pretty typical Oubre – hyper-competitive verging on out of control. It’s fun regardless.
Let’s just say he’s right, though, and the Wizards win Game 6. Game 7 would be Sunday in Toronto, where, by Oubre’s own admission, Wright plays well and the Raptors are undefeated in the postseason. Then what?
The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.
Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:
“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”
Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.
Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago:
The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.
This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.
This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.
There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.
In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.
Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.
John Canzano of The Oregonian:
That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.
Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.
Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.
Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.
And there’s an NBA tie.
Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:
I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks
— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011
Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.
But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.