No cutoff date for Fultz's return, says Brown
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 9: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots a lay up against Daniel Theis #27 of the Boston Celtics during the preseason game on October 9, 2017 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
The Philadelphia 76ers got win No. 35 last night by beating the Charlotte Hornets, 128-114. In doing so, they reached the 35-win mark for the first time since the 2011-12 season -- which was also the last time the Sixers made the NBA playoffs. The playoffs are perhaps on the horizon again for the Sixers this season, but will the No. 1 pick of the 2017 Draft, Markelle Fultz, suit up for them?
Fultz has not played since the fourth game of the season, which is when the team shut him down due to issues with his right shoulder. He was ruled out indefinitely on Oct. 29 (Oct. 30, PHL time) with soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. Bryan Colangelo, the team's president of basketball operations, said last month he was unsure if Fultz would return this season ... and that seems to be the case today, too.
Sixers coach Brett Brown spoke with reporters yesterday about Fultz's status, writes Jessica Camerato of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. He did not paint a particularly clear picture of when the guard may play again:
With 19 games left before the start of the playoffs, Brett Brown said the Sixers have not set a cutoff date for Markelle Fultz to either return or sit out the remainder of the season.
"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."
A return seems more unlikely than likely this late in the season. Fultz would have to make up a lot of ground being reworked into the mix — especially since he would have the ball in his hands — and simply getting back into game-playing condition, a transition for players returning from long-term injuries.
The Sixers also are tightening up rotations as they gear up for the postseason while integrating Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova into the second unit. The Sixers signed the two veterans to bolster the bench, which has lacked scoring. Fultz began the season in a sixth-man role.
"I think he's getting better,” Brown said of Fultz’s long-range progress. “I think it looks like it's getting more comfortable."
Fultz has been traveling with the team and has gotten shots up -- particularly from 3-point range -- in pregame scenarios, adds Camerato.
Here’s a Markelle Fultz 3 from Charlotte: pic.twitter.com/PBfbajsRSR— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) March 6, 2018
Here’s another look at Fultz 3s: pic.twitter.com/Uitqw4nd1Z— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) March 6, 2018
Markelle Fultz elevating pregame: pic.twitter.com/C4OXqR2HRt— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) March 6, 2018
Fultz struggled to begin the season, averaging 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 18.9 minutes. He shot just 33 percent overall (9-for-27), 50 percent on free throws (6-for-12) and has not attempted a three-pointer.