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

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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.

Jimmy Butler on Markelle Fultz: “We want him to be great”

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When Philadelphia traded for Jimmy Butler, it was the effective end of the Markelle Fultz experiment for this season.

The 76ers moved into a win now mode, which did not fit with letting Markelle Fultz start so he could gain confidence over time (that starting five with Fultz did not have enough shooting and often dug the team a nightly hole to climb out of). J.J. Redick was quickly starting again, and guys like T.J. McConnell and Landry Shamet were getting more run.

Through it all, the Sixers players have stood by Fultz — they like him, they want to see him succeed. That includes Butler.

“I just want Markelle to know he got everybody in his corner here. We want him to be great… when he’s ready to get back in here and work, we’re all for it. We need the guy.”

Fultz is currently in New York seeing specialists about his shoulder injury, one the Sixers organization was not aware of (dissect that how you wish).

Young players, such as Fultz, often struggle to block out the “outside noise” and focus on what they want to do. Butler, Redick, veterans are very good at it. Whatever is going on, it feels like finding Fultz a new home is what’s best for everyone. Of course, that’s not easy and could drag out a while, but it may be time for Philadelphia sports fans to just move on, to focus on the good — Butler draining game winners — and bad (a bottom five defense since the trade), not Fultz.

With Markelle Fultz out, T.J. McConnell is getting more run, reportedly off trade block

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Early this season, Philadelphia was giving Markelle Fultz every chance. He was starting, he was getting the ball in his hands with the second unit, and he was getting more minutes than his play warranted because the Sixers were trying to make it work. The guy who lost out with that was fan favorite T.J. McConnell. The hustling backup point guard saw his run decrease, missing six games and playing fewer than 10 minutes in seven others.

The Jimmy Butler trade changed the Sixers focus — they are about winning now. Markelle Fultz is not with the team, he’s seeing a specialist in New York. The beneficiary of all that? McConnell, who has found himself back in the middle of the rotation the past few games.

That means he’s off the trade market, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

In recent weeks, the Sixers stopped listening to trade overtures for McConnell, sources said, a reflection of the fact that the organization knows it will be leaning more heavily on him now. McConnell can be a free agent this summer.

McConnell, and even more so rookie guard Landry Shamet, provide some of the outside shooting the Sixers need with this rotation. Philly needs floor spacing and Fultz simply does not give the team that. Which is why, despite everyone saying otherwise publicly, he is on his way out as a Sixer. It’s best for everyone.

And especially good for McConnell, who wants to get on the court and earn that next contract.

Report: Markelle Fultz wants 76ers to trade him

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Markelle Fultz lost his starting spot to Jimmy Butler. In the 76ers’ last game, Fultz fell out of the second-half rotation entirely.

The dam broke earlier this week when Fultz’s agent informed the team his client wouldn’t play or practice until seeing a specialist Monday.

With Fultz’s shots – particularly his free throws – continuing to produce cringes, the situation is getting even uglier.

Jared Weiss, Derek Bodner and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

Sources with knowledge of Fultz’s thinking have also told The Athletic that the player would prefer a fresh start with a new team.

The report also includes several more details:

  • Fultz underwent knee surgery between his lone college season at Washington and his rookie year.
  • Fultz wants to see the specialist not just about his known shoulder injury, but also a wrist injury.
  • Fultz has issues even just gripping the ball.

There’s much more in the report about Fultz’s woes, and I suggest reading it in full – if you can avoid looking away. It is horrifying.

Despite his insistence his problems are due to injury, Fultz is clearly suffering from a mental block. Maybe it’s related to injuries, but to treat only physical issues will not fix Fultz.

Maybe leaving Philadelphia would help, but I suspect his problems run deeper. And the 76ers probably don’t want to just dump the former No. 1 pick they’ve invested so much in.

But they also have plenty of backcourt depth – Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, J.J. Redick, Landry Shamet and T.J. McConnell. Clearing Fultz’s $9,745,200 salary for next season could go a long way in free agency next summer.

Everyone might be better off moving on.

But Fultz has fallen so far, mere “better” might not be enough to save his career. Hopefully, he rediscovers his shooting stroke – in Philadelphia or elsewhere. But he has even further to go than it previously appeared, and the situation already seemed dire.

This is just sad.

J.J. Redick’s game-winning three lifts 76ers past Magic

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PHILADELPHIA — JJ Redick hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to lift the Philadelphia 76ers over the Orlando Magic 116-115 on Saturday night. You can see the video above.

Redick had his best game since moving to Philadelphia’s bench at the start of the season, scoring 31 points on 10-of-20 shooting, including eight 3-pointers.

Aaron Gordon had a chance to tie it with 10 seconds remaining but missed his second free throw, and a desperation heave by Terrance Ross missed the net entirely.

Joel Embiid had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers, including 19 points by halftime. He did it with an outside game in the first half but was more of a force down low after intermission.

Dario Saric scored 13 points and Robert Covington had 12 as the 76ers improved to 2-1 this season.

Evan Fournier had 31 points to lead Orlando. Nikola Vucevic added 27 points and Gordon had 20.

Ben Simmons left the game after the first quarter with a tight back, meaning Philadelphia had to lean that much more on Embiid and Redick.

With Simmons out, Markelle Fultz was given an opportunity to play extended minutes and run the offense. Fultz finished with eight points on 4-of-11 shooting and added seven assists with only one turnover.

However, with the game on the line, 76ers coach Brett Brown opted to use T.J. McConnell at the point and kept Fultz on the bench.

High scores have been common in the early part of the NBA season as teams are pushing the pace and trying more shots, especially from deep.

Both teams shot lights out from 3-point territory. The Sixers, paced by Redick, shot 17 of 34 (50 percent) while the Magic, led by Fournier’s six 3-pointers, shot 16 of 29 (55.2 percent).

Thirteen players attempted shots from beyond the arc, eight for Orlando and five for Philadelphia.