Markelle Fultz’s return to basketball continues to inch closer.
The 2017 No. 1 overall draft selection participated in four-on-four half-court play during practice Tuesday and finished the day with some light one-on-one work.
Though Fultz is not yet a full participant in practice, Tuesday marked the most that he has done with the 76ers since being shut down after just four games with a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder.
Despite the uptick in activity, there is still no definite timeline for Fultz’s return. So, as always with the Sixers, expectations must be tempered.
“He’s moving well and starting to get excited about his return to play,” coach Brett Brown said following practice. “What I saw today was just encouraging to see him play with his teammates and playing live basketball.”
Last week, the Inquirer and Daily News reported that Fultz would start taking part in team drills during the road trip that ended Sunday. Tuesday, the Sixers released a statement updating Fultz’s shoulder rehabilitation.
“Markelle Fultz has been cleared to begin the final stage of his return-to-play program. The program consists of gradual re-integration into team practices and training, complemented with additional conditioning work to support fitness readiness for game play,” the statement read.
The long-awaited return of Fultz is something that Brown thinks about often. Fultz is the kind of guard who can create shots for himself and others, and Brown considers that trait a missing piece of the Sixers’ offense.
“His skill set ties so many things together,” Brown said. “He can make plays, and when you are missing some of those qualities in a group, things get exposed.”
Joel Embiid doubtful vs. Spurs
Uncertainty seems to be a continuing theme for the Sixers, and ahead of Wednesday’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs, uncertainty is draped around Joel Embiid.
Embiid received treatment on the hand following Tuesday’s practice, in which he was a partial participant.
Brown said the injury was a major scare for the team, and the fact that it is Embiid’s shooting hand is not encouraging.
“If you saw the palm of his hand, you would see the bruising and the swelling and the discoloring,” Brown said. “If it was his non-shooting hand, you might feel more confident. But we’ll all learn more [Wednesday].”