Getty Images

Seeking guard depth, 76ers reportedly workout Arron Afflalo, Brandon Rush, others

Leave a comment

Markelle Fultz is officially off getting treatment for thoracic outlet syndrome and will be out for weeks or months (nobody is exactly sure). Which isn’t really bothering the Sixers — other than the fact players, coaches, and everyone else is weary of the barrage of Fultz questions — they are playing well without him, and Fultz is not in the long-term plans for the Sixers anyway.

However, it leaves Philadelphia lacking depth at the guard spot. Ben Simmons and J.J. Redick start and get the key minutes, with T.J. McConnell and rookie Landry Shamet behind them, but this is no longer a deep spot on the team.

So Philadelphia is considering bringing in some help, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

It’s not clear what, if anything, will come out of that workout, but it means the Sixers are weighing options. It’s unlikely that anyone they will look at in this capacity will break into the regular rotation, this is more about adding depth and security, just in case it’s needed.

Arron Afflalo is an 11-year NBA veteran who last season in Orlando, his efficiency and game slowing down, but he still shot 38.6 percent from three and is good in the locker room. Brandon Rush was not on an NBA roster most of last season, he did sign a 10-day contract with Portland in February but never saw the court for them.

Report: Markelle Fultz’s agent angered 76ers with injury announcement, description

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
7 Comments

Markelle Fultz‘s agent, Raymond Brothers, told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN the guard had been diagnosed with “Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, (TOS), a physical injury.”

Then, the 76ers released a statement that passively acknowledged TOS “was identified.”

Meanwhile, Brothers was claiming vindication over anyone who said Fultz had the yips – including, undoubtedly, people within the 76ers organization.

Brothers, via Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“People were saying it was a mental problem and it is not,” Brothers told ESPN on Tuesday night. “There’s no way you’re the No. 1 pick in the world and all of a sudden you aren’t able to consistently raise your arms to shoot a basketball. Something is physically wrong. Now we have the answer to that problem.”

Apparently, none of this went over well with the 76ers.

Howard Eskin of 94WIP:

Zach Lowe on ESPN:

How it was described to me by sources close to the situation are two things.

Number one, the diagnosis was described to me as a diagnosis of exclusion. By which they meant, if all these doctors – and he’s seen like 15 by now – find nothing structurally to explain why he’s in pain, then this is sort of the default, this must be what it is.

And number two, they’ve kind of pushed back on the term “nerve damage.” The Sixers are saying there is no nerve damage. There may be some issues going on, but they’re pushing back against that terminology.

Fultz and the 76ers have appeared to be on different pages for a while. Philadelphia reportedly doesn’t consider Fultz in its long-term plans, and he reportedly wants to be traded.

This TOS diagnosis evidently didn’t unite both sides.

Wojnarowski reported Fultz will miss 3-6 weeks for rehabilitation, which he’ll do in Los Angeles. I’d be surprised if Fultz returns that quickly, let alone if he returns that quickly with his shot fixed. I’m just unconvinced all of Fultz’s issues have been identified and are being addressed.

But at least everyone will have time to collect themselves and find common ground. There appears to be too much distrust right now.

Of course, the biggest issue is Fultz shooting well again. If he doesn’t, the rest won’t really matter.

Three Things to Know: Luka Doncic sticks dagger in reeling Blazers, gets Mavericks win

Getty Images
3 Comments

Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Luka Doncic sticks the dagger in reeling Blazers, gets Mavericks win. Deandre Ayton is filling up the box score. Jaren Jackson Jr. is impressing everyone on both ends of the court and looks like he may be the best player out of this draft class in three years.

But if the vote were today, Dallas’ Luka Doncic would be Rookie of the Year. He is the best offensive player on a 12-10 Mavericks team that is in the middle of the West playoff hunt (they are the 7 seed as you read this in the brutally tight conference).

Or, just ask Portland, because Doncic stuck the dagger in them Tuesday night.

Doncic bullied the Blazers down low when they put a smaller player like Nik Stauskas on him, shooting 4-of-7 in the paint, and Doncic was also 2-of-4 from three. He finished with 21 points and 9 rebounds on the night.

Portland, meanwhile, has hit a real slump losing 5-of-6 and with a net rating of -8.2 in those games. The offense has been just okay during this stretch, which has not been good enough to cover up a putrid defense surrendering 117.2 per 100 possessions in those six games. The team has eaten into that cushion of wins it had early in the season and finds itself right in the middle of that brutal and tight Western Conference playoff chase.

2) Markelle Fultz has a diagnosis, but there is still a long way to go before this saga ends. Markelle Fultz spent a week seeing specialists, 10 of them according to reports, but in the end a doctor diagnosed him with something that could certainly have impacted his shot: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). The Sixers say he will be away from the team indefinitely, although reports (certainly out of the Fultz camp) say he could miss just 3-6 weeks.

Markelle Fultz’s agent and camp are feeling vindicated, they have preached this was physical and not mental throughout. Even though clearly it was part mental. Now Fultz goes into rehab and we will see what he and his jump shot look like on the other side.

TOS is something seen in baseball players but rarely if ever in basketball players. Rather than me trying to play doctor, here is the Mayo Clinic’s description:

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers. Common causes of thoracic outlet syndrome include… repetitive injuries from job- or sports-related activities.

Here’s the important thing: If Fultz believes this treatment will help him, it will. Get him physically right and, hopefully, the mental part of his game clicks back in and he returns to being something like the consensus No. 1 pick. That’s the hope.

What does not change is that Fultz and the Sixers still need to part ways. The Sixers have moved into a win-now mode with the Jimmy Bulter trade and there is just too much baggage. When Fultz returns there may be trade interest around him at the deadline, and it would be best for both sides to just get on without each other.

Which is to say, the Markelle Fultz saga in Philadelphia is not over.

3) Kyle Korver returns to Salt Lake City, Jazz knock down a record 20 threes in win. Since the Utah Jazz acquired Kyle Korver from the Cavaliers, they are 3-1 and a team that had struggled from deep all season has shot 43.3 percent from deep. (Ignore the fact it’s been against a soft part of the schedule.)

That continued Tuesday night in Korver’s return to Salt Lake City — he was 3-of-4 from three on his way to 15 points, and the Jazz set a franchise record with 20 threes made in the game (on just 33 attempts), leading them to a 139-105 rout of the suddenly defenseless Spurs (San Antonio’s ugly defense the past couple of weeks is another story).

The Utah Jazz needed this, a game where their shots just seemed to fall like rain. Donovan Mitchell was 4-of-6 from three, and Joe Ingles was 3-of-6. They led the way for a team that just could not seem to miss.

Have the Jazz found their footing? Two of the next three games for them are against the Rockets and Thunder, that should be a good measuring stick. So far, that Korver trade has looked like a real spark.

Markelle Fultz diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in shooting shoulder, out 3-6 weeks

Getty Images
7 Comments

Markelle Fultz has spent more than a week seeing specialists about his shoulder — while the Philadelphia organization was caught off guard by this and were skeptical — but all those doctors settled on a diagnosis:

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

That according to a statement from the Philadelphia 76ers (which his agent had told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN before, breaking the story).

What is TOS? From the Mayo Clinic’s description:

Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed. This can cause pain in your shoulders and neck and numbness in your fingers. Common causes of thoracic outlet syndrome include… repetitive injuries from job- or sports-related activities.

There has been speculation about just how injured Fultz really is, but the bottom line is only Fultz knows his body. If he is injured — or if he believes he is injured — then this diagnosis and treatment should help him. After he is physically right, the task will be restoring his confidence (and physically making sure this issue does not become chronic).

The Sixers have looked to trade Fultz, but right now the market is very dry (they likely could not get a first-round pick for him, plus a player to balance the salaries). Teams, like fans in Philadelphia and elsewhere, want to know what was wrong physically and how that has impacted him mentally.

Report: 76ers teammates concerned about Markelle Fultz’s overall health

Getty
3 Comments

From best we can judge from the outside, it has always seemed as though there is some kind of mental block happening with Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz. The former No. 1 overall pick is now seeing specialist for his shoulder and wrist to determine if he has any kind of physical limitations.

But now some are vocalizing their concern that there might be some kind of mental element to Fultz’s struggles as well.

In recent report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Sixers players were sourced as saying they were worried about Fultz’s continuing overall health. Presumably, that’s a reference to his internal struggle with his situation over the past two years.

Via ESPN:

Fultz’s teammates are increasingly concerned about his overall well-being beyond his struggles on the court, league sources told ESPN. The organization has expressed its support as Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, completes his consultations in the coming days.

The saga with the young guard has gone on for some time, and has taken twists and turns, including Fultz reportedly wanting a trade away from Philadelphia. His agent denied that claim, but it doesn’t feel outlandish. Team are reportedly interested in Fultz, although with certain stipulations.

Whether that’s the best choice for him at this time is hard to levy in earnest, and even if he does not remain with the Sixers no doubt everyone involved wants to see him work through whatever it is Fultz needs to conquer.