PORTLAND, Ore. – Markelle Fultz will be incorporated in some of the 76ers’ team drills this week on their West Coast road trip.
However, coach Brett Brown wouldn’t give a timeline for the guard’s returning to full action in a game.
“Slowly we will start integrating him into this,” Brown said of Fultz’s workouts. “But the answer everybody probably wants to hear is when [will he play]. I just don’t know that.”
Fultz, the first-overall pick in June’s NBA draft, hasn’t done much since being cleared to participate in team activities on Dec. 9. At that time, the belief was that Fultz would start participating in team drills. However, he participated only in solo drills under the supervision of a player-development coach.
The Sixers won’t throw Fultz in five-on-five scrimmages, at least not initially. He might compete in some 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 drills.
“It’s breakdown stuff,” Brown said. “We’ll continue to do those types of things. When the time comes, where we can say honestly to you guys, like ‘Markelle Fultz is now 5-on-5’ we’ll tell you that. Right now, we can’t.”
As Brown was saying that, Fultz, who was walking by, said with a smile: “Put me in coach.”
The coach responded: “I got you, brother.”
The Sixers medical staff, in conjunction with surgeon Ben Kibler of the Shoulder Center at Kentucky, in Lexington, “will gauge his readiness” to play in a game at the end of this week. This comes after the team announced in the Dec. 9 statement that Fultz is no longer experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and the scapular muscle imbalance was resolved. Three weeks from that date is Saturday.
Fultz worked out in a side gym on Wednesday while the team practiced in the main gym of a university here. The team will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night at the Moda Center.
They will practice in the city on Friday morning before flying to Denver. One can assume that Fultz will increase his workload on Friday, considering that’s the only real practice on the trip outside of Wednesday.
The Sixers will have a shootaround Thursday morning in preparation for that night’s game. They’ll do the same Saturday morning for Saturday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Sixers won’t have a shootaround before Sunday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
Fultz has been sidelined since playing against the Detroit Pistons on Oct. 24. Thursday’s matchup will mark the 29th game he has missed.
Kibler first diagnosed scapular muscle imbalance in Fultz’s initial visit to the center on Oct. 29. A second examination on Nov. 19 revealed that the muscle balance in the rookie’s shoulder had improved and the soreness was dissipating.
“I know he wants to get out there,” Ben Simmons said of Fultz’s wanting to play. “He can’t wait. I’m looking to playing with him just because at the start of the season, you could see a lot of potential with him.
“I think we’re going to have a great chemistry once he gets back.”
Sixers unveil new uniforms
The 76ers unveiled their “City Edition” uniforms Wednesday morning. The parchment paper-colored outfits, featuring a blue “Phila” in signature-style lettering, are the fourth uniform the Sixers will wear this season. There’s also red and blue trim around the collar down to the arm holes, in addition to red trim halfway around the blue numbers.
Reserve forward Justin Anderson is expected to play in Thursday night’s game. He missed the last 19 games with shin splints in his left leg. Anderson has averaged 5.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 12.7 minutes in 10 games this season. … Joel Embiid was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. The center was impressive and moved well. Embiid has been battling back stiffness.