Markelle Fultz headed straight to Los Angeles after his introductory news conference in Orlando to continue rehabbing and Magic coach Steve Clifford does not expect for the former No. 1 pick to return this season.
“He hasn’t been with us,” Clifford said after the Magic’s Tuesday morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center. “He literally came in and did the press conference and, until he gets his shoulder strength, he won’t be with us.”
While Clifford said that there is no set timetable and that the team is waiting for Fultz to be 100 percent healed, he did offer a little more on Monday on the Sirius XM NBA Radio show.
“It would be very difficult for him to get back this year,” Clifford said Monday.
The Magic have kept in constant contact with Fultz and have their own staff in Los Angeles to track his progress but Clifford said that Fultz hasn’t been able to do much on the court.
Fultz, traded to the Magic by the 76ers at the trade deadline, hasn’t played since Nov. 19. He was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome shortly after.
“We’re always thinking about Markelle, we truly wish him well,” Brett Brown said Tuesday before the Sixers faced the Magic. “I hope he can resurface. I believe he will, and reclaim some of the expectations that he has on himself and the marketplace has for him.”
Jonathon Simmons, acquired by the Sixers from Orlando in the trade for Fultz, saw his former team for the first time since the trade on Tuesday.
Clifford said that surgery to repair a ligament in Simmons’ right wrist in April of 2018 made it difficult for him to get back into a rhythm when the 2018-19 season started. Though he averaged more than 20 minutes per game, he missed training camp, which Clifford said made things difficult.
Even with the injury and significant drop in three-point efficiency, Simmons’ former teammates said he was always a positive presence that is missed in the Orlando locker room.