The curious case surrounding Sixers point guard Markelle Fultz and his shoulder has taken another awkward turn.
David Aldridge and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that at the direction of his attorney/agent Raymond Brothers, the former first overall pick is scheduled to visit a shoulder specialist within the week in New York.
Along those same lines, Brothers also told Aldridge that Fultz will not participate in team practices or games until the specialist has had an opportunity to evaluate him.
This latest news regarding Fultz was unexpected because it seemed as if he was starting to figure things out on the court. He was in the starting lineup for the first 15 games of this season and made an effort to start taking midrange jump shots.
However, even when he took those jumpers something still seemed off with his form. It did not have a smooth follow through and it appeared that he was pushing the ball every time he would shoot.
The former University of the Washington standout was eventually moved to the bench as the Sixers acquired Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Things took another turn as Fultz only played a season-low seven minutes in Monday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns. In his place, T.J. McConnell took over the backup point guard duties.
After the game, Fultz was asked about only playing a few minutes, but he did not seem concerned.
“You definitely want to go out there and compete … I’m a competitor. But, at the end of the day, coach made a decision to do that, so I have to live with it. My mindset is just, when I step on the court, go out there and play. But while T.J. is out there, I’m rooting for him,” he said (h/t Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
“It’s not like I’m sitting on the bench pouting or anything. I want to be out there, but I’m going to root for my teammates.”
While it is nice to hear that Fultz wants to play and be out on the court with his teammates, it also appears that his shoulder is not 100 percent.
Earlier this month, basketball trainer Drew Hanlen, who worked out Fultz in the offseason, divulged some interesting information about the 20-year-old in a deleted tweet.
Hanlen said to another basketball trainer, “you don’t know his situation. He’s still not healthy.” The next day, both Sixers head coach Brett Brown and Fultz quickly denounced what Hanlen said on social media.
“Nobody’s ever 100-percent healthy in this game,” Fultz said (h/t Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philly). “You play five games in seven days, you get bumps and bruises. That’s life in the NBA, that’s what you sign up for when you get here. But I’m working every day to get better.”
From there, Fultz and Hanlen’s relationship immediately came to an end, according to Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype.
Last season, Fultz missed a majority of his rookie campaign with scapular muscle imbalance. He only played in 14 games, which included capturing a triple-double in the team’s regular-season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Nevertheless, one can only hope that Fultz and his team take the correct steps in making sure he is fully healthy for the long-term. The young point guard should not come back until he feels like himself because, at the end of his day, it is his career that is in limbo.