Brett Brown on Friday night responded more forcefully than he ever has regarding the status of Markelle Fultz.
“I truly don’t know,” the 76ers coach said when asked if the rookie point guard will return this season. “Here I am telling you that. It’s that whole truth and nothing but the truth. I really don’t know.”
Fultz missed his 64th game this season on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center for what the team called shoulder rehabilitation. However, he’s actually been sidelined because he is relearning how to shoot.
Brown acknowledged that Fultz “truly is getting better.”
He said the decision on when to return will be a collaborative one led by Fultz. Brown didn’t give a definitive timeline for making the decision but said it would happen soon. He said the Sixers haven’t set a hard date or after a specific amount of games to decide. They’re just letting the situation play out, he said.
The Sixers have only 14 regular-season games remaining. That begs the question of why bring him back at all?
Brown’s answer was because Fultz can make the Sixers better.
“This is the Holy Grail, the risk-reward of Markelle Fultz,” Brown said. “I’m tilting on reward. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. But that would be the answer that I give you.”
Fultz averaged 6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 19 minutes in four games this season.