Markelle Fultz trade rumors: 76ers no longer consider last year's No. 1 pick in long-term plans, open to making deal
The Sixers are reportedly tired of waiting on the development of last year's top pick and ready to move on
Despite trading up to select Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers no longer consider the second-year guard to be in their long-term plans, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Fultz is currently not participating in games or practices with the Sixers as he waits to see a shoulder specialist early next week.
"Some sources have said that, despite the team's statements, Fultz is no longer in the Sixers' long-term plans. And they are no longer using his shoulder as an excuse for his performances.
If the 76ers have tired of this saga and are considering trading Fultz, and multiple sources said they are, his trade value must have declined a great deal since the start of the season… The team might be able to get a late-first-round pick for Fultz from a desperate club willing to take a chance, or the Sixers could try for a player with an expiring contract. That would enable them to avoid paying the $9.7 million that Fultz is guaranteed for next season.
[Jimmy] Butler is expected to opt out of the final year of his deal, and the money saved by trading Fultz could allow the Sixers to re-sign Butler and another top free agent."
Fultz missed 69 games during his rookie campaign due to an offseason shoulder injury and the resulting collapse of his shooting stroke and on-court confidence. Heading into this season, he was deemed healthy and inserted into the Sixers' starting lineup.
However, since the team added four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler via trade earlier this month, Fultz has been bumped back to a reserve role. On Monday night, Fultz played just seven minutes against the Phoenix Suns and didn't appear in the second half, as T.J. McConnell got the minutes that would have normally gone to Fultz. The next morning it was announced that as he got checked by a shoulder specialist.
While some have suggested that Fultz's struggles are mental, he has been adamant that they are the result of physical injury.
"What happened last year was an injury," Fultz said at Sixers media day in September. "Let me get that straight. It was an injury that happened that didn't allow me to go through the certain paths that I needed to, to shoot the ball.
"Just like any normal person, when you're used to doing something the same way each and every day and something happens, of course you're going to start thinking about it. It's just normal."
Fultz spent the summer getting up thousands of shots a day in hopes of returning his form to its pre-Sixers state.
"This summer was one of my most hard-working summers," Fultz said. "Everybody knows what happened last year, so this summer was really just me working to get my mechanics back, my confidence back, my swagger back. It was a very productive summer.
"I had a lot of motivation going into the summer. Last year I had an injury that stopped me from being myself a hundred percent… I'm very confident going into the season."
Fultz is averaging 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists this season for the Sixers, while shooting just 41 percent from the field, 28 percent from three and 57 percent from the foul line.
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