When 76ers general manager Bryan Colangelo walked up to a podium at the team’s training complex in Camden on Friday morning, he was hoping to talk about the Thursday trade deadline in which the Sixers did nothing.
That did not happen.
Questions regarding Markelle Fultz and the enigma of a shoulder injury to the rookie were the hot topic of the day. Try as he might to redirect the line of questioning back to the trade deadline, the members of the media were looking for answers about Fultz.
We got a few answers, but ultimately we walked away with more questions.
Colangelo said that the Sixers do not know when, or if, Fultz will return this season.
“You can’t confuse medical clearance and being ready to play basketball,” he said. “Like I said, he’s doing great. He’s coming along. He’s doing some great things in terms of his growth.”
Medical clearance isn’t the only thing that Fultz has been tagged with. He was also cleared to play full-contact five-on-five basketball at practice, which is why his readiness to play is still such a mystery.
What more must Fultz do? Does he need to hit threes with ease in order to be ready for game play? What is his range right now?
“Within the paint basically. Paint shots,” Colangelo said. “Perimeter shots are where you kind of draw a line.”
Is this the dazzling growth that Colangelo was talking about?
A Dec. 9 medical update from the Sixers said that Fultz was “no longer experiencing soreness” due to the scapular muscle imbalance. Yet here we are, two months later, and a very expensive No. 1 overall pick, selected because of his shooting prowess, cannot shoot the ball from outside the paint.
At what point do the Sixers just say Fultz will not be ready or able to help us this year, we’re shutting him down for the season?
“I don’t think we’ve discussed that. I don’t think that it’s something that is a good question,” Colangelo said.
That’s surprising. The GM of the Sixers doesn’t think that he’s discussed whether there is a cutoff date for Fultz to return. Really? It seems like that is a really huge investment, for which every angle and possibility should be discussed.
Despite the 22-minute session with Colangelo — roughly 12 minutes spent talking about Fultz — we still don’t know what caused the injury and Colangelo added that the team does not know if the changed shot form or the scapular muscle imbalance came first.
Why is Fultz being held out of conditioning drills?
“I don’t know that he’s being taken out of conditioning drills, per se,” Colangelo said, even though head coach Brett Brown is the one who said Fultz was taken out of such drills. “He’s taken out of various drills in practice situations, in practice settings, where he either is not able to continue or where there are situations that are more conducive for the players that are actually playing the games.”
So, people who aren’t going to play don’t practice? Hope this doesn’t mean Richaun Holmes is also not getting his run on off days.
Though clarification on some of these answers would have been greatly appreciated, Colangelo had his fill of talking for the day. And as I asked if there was a reevaluation date for Fultz, he turned and walked away from the podium (yes, midsentence, check the tape).
Once again, the Fultz saga continues.
Better luck next time.