Markelle Fultz played four games for Philadelphia at the start of this season. You probably forgot that.
It was then that he was pulled off the court to deal with a shoulder injury, which had morphed into a concern about his shooting form and jump shot. Was the issue in his head? Armchair sports psychologists tried to figure out what was going on, questioning if he is ready to play, while logical people noted he’s just 19 and may need a little time.
But with just 18 games left before the 76ers enter the playoffs, it’s time to ask:
Will Markelle Fultz play for the Sixers again this season?
He was out warming up on the court pregame before the Sixers beat the Hornets Tuesday, as shown by Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Sixers coach Brett Brown gave a vague answer to the return question, saying the team was thinking about it still.
“It’s all internal discussions we’re going through right now and just trying to accurately assess his situation,” Brown said Tuesday before the Sixers played the Hornets. “And we’re discussing that as we speak.”
At this point, my bet is the next time we see Fultz is on the court at the Thomas & Mack in Las Vegas this July. The Sixers are rolling, trying to get playoff seeding and their postseason rotations in place. Bringing in Fultz would force changes to all of those routines, plus be a big media distraction. Let him build confidence going against lesser players at Summer League, give him an entire training camp to adjust, then unleash the No. 1 pick on the NBA next season.
There is no rush for Philadelphia — “the process” is just starting to come into focus. This team has the potential to be special, to be elite, to contend, but that is years down the road. The Sixers have been a patient organization — well, except when ownership caved to the pressure and fired Sam Hinkie to bring in the old-guard Colangelos — and it’s no time to change that now. Let Fultz miss a season, that has worked pretty well for the Sixers with other players.