The 76ers, after making clear their concern about Fultz’s offseason changes to his mechanics, have said little while playing him in their first four games.
Finally, Philadelphia’s management is stepping in.
Fultz will miss the next three games and will be reevaluated next Tuesday, a decision Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said was mutual between Fultz and the team.
“There was no medical reason not to play him,” Colangelo said. “He was cleared to play and he wanted to play. That’s why he was playing. His reluctance to shoot, obviously his shot mechanics have been affected by whatever’s going on, or vice versa.”
Colangelo, via Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice:
We spent some time with him throughout the summer, but sometime during the month of August I think, he might have worked on his shot a little bit, could even be the cause of the irritation and inflamation in the shoulder. New shooting mechanics sometimes put your shoulder in a different position. Whatever the case, whichever happened first, he’s dealing with soreness and nothing more.
If Colangelo was correct that playing Fultz was not medically damaging… if 76ers coach Brett Brown was correct that Fultz could work on other facets of his game like defense and ball-handling while playing through his injury… if Fultz was correct that neither his confidence nor habits would be shaken long-term by these repeatedly replayed comically bad shots… it was fine to play him.
But those are a lot of ifs.
The 76ers sitting him now suggests they might have been wrong about playing him prior – or were right then and are caving to pressure now. Neither is good.
Nor is publicly accusing Fultz of causing these problems by changing his form, at least without presenting more evidence. Colangelo openly wondering about the cause and effect can only cause distrust between Fultz and the team.
This was a messy situation that somehow appears to be getting even messier.
If Fultz gets healthy and can start shooting like he did in college, this will all go away quickly. But the path to that end has become more winding than ever imagined.