Sixers Roundtable Vol. III
What are your thoughts on the Fultz situation? What would you do if you were Elton Brand? If you think he should be moved, offer one realistic trade scenario…
Elton Brand is faced with a difficult decision. Markelle Fultz, similarly to Ben Simmons, was billed as a can’t miss talent and the consensus number 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, a series of unpredictable, unimaginable, and depressing events transpired. Fultz has shown several glimpses of his brilliance when he’s on the court. He brings the highlight reel plays, good and bad. At this point, I believe Brand must hold Fultz until the end of the season unless we are getting a star in return. It’s important to recognize Fultz’s possible future value. This is not a situation like Jahlil Okafor. Fultz, even through all the ups and downs, still has value. Fultz seems to get along well with his teammates, and that is important for a young player. The Sixers’ plan is to sign a big name free-agent after the season. In order to do that, Fultz’s contract must disappear. This will allow them to sign Jimmy Butler and one other max contract.
At this point you hold Fultz. You wait for a deal you can’t refuse. If you can’t make one before the trade deadline, you keep him around, and you explore your options. Barring a run of truly special play by Fultz, the Sixers are likely to move on as they believe this is their window to win. Very few players mature prior to their age 23 season but waiting three more years for Fultz to mature may not be in the cards. If a player says I want to sign, then the cold hard truth is Fultz must be traded.
If I’m Elton Brand, my current Markelle Fultz goal is to keep him here, keep him comfortable, and get him away from his current circle as soon as possible. A trade makes sense to me in the summer when that cap space can be used up, but before the deadline is too soon for me. Cap space is useful, but the Sixers have exceptions to navigate the buyout market with, and cap space doesn’t contribute anything for this season. Get him fully committed to the team, and see where he can end up. I can’t see his value being lower in the summer than it is now, provided he continues to play and become a known commodity.
If a trade demand comes in, I would be interesting in sending Fultz to Chicago. The deal I’d like would be Markelle Fultz, Furkan Korkmaz, and a moderately protected first round pick (not Miami’s 2021 pick) in exchange for Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis, and Ryan Arcidiacono. I’m not sure that the Bulls would accept this trade, but it would be mutually beneficial. The Bulls can continue to tank (whether by design or circumstance), allowing a low-risk Fultz bet to run its course as Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. develop, while the Sixers can shore up their PF and wing rotations, lengthening the bench. Arcidiacono also provides the Sixers with some cheap youth to develop, even if it isn’t a blue chip prospect. Again, while I’d prefer the Sixers take their time with Markelle, I’d be happy with this trade if the Fultz camp wants out of Philadelphia.
Elton Brand has a situation on his hands that is one of the more unique in the recent history of the NBA, and not one that will be easy to rectify with a trade. Markelle Fultz is a very recent #1 pick, and one who showed enough talent and potential at the University of Washington to warrant the pick. What has transpired since has been more than adequately covered, and what has not been made public perhaps complicates matters more than we as fans, or even the media, know. Rest assured that the back channels of the NBA are active, and there’s likely enough information flowing through them that, when combined with what is known about Fultz, makes it highly unlikely that adequate value can be extracted with a trade.
Fultz’s challenges are not at all related to his abilities on the court. Instead, they appear to be a combination of his support group outside of the organization and the struggles that he continues to have within himself. Further, these issues will require an absolute teardown that goes beyond his shot, and even beyond the court. If I were Brand, I would attempt to have a heartfelt one on one conversation with Fultz so that I could explain to him the crossroads in his life that he is at. I would explain to him how important it is to surround himself with people who truly have his best interests at heart, provide him all of the necessary resources that the team can provide to help him rebuild into what he is to become, reinforce the organization’s 100% support in him no matter what happens, and empower him to make the decisions necessary to make those changes in his life.
What better situation than The Process to invest long term in who Markelle Fultz can truly be?
Many years ago there was a pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays system who suddenly lost it. The mechanics failed, he couldn’t get anyone out and he looked to go down as just another arm that didn’t pan out. That pitcher was Roy Halladay, and he was able to turn his career around after reading a book by Harvey Dorfman and working with him on undoing the mental blocks that were sabotaging his physical gifts. Both men are unfortunately gone, but Markelle Fultz needs a Dorfman of his own. This is a kid who is terrified and second guessing his every move. He doesn’t need to take 100 jumpers with Drew Hanlen, he needs to get to the source of his anxiety and self-doubt. The shoulder’s fine, and if Dr. John Sarno we’re still alive, I would be screaming for the Sixers to send Kelle to him, as he was visionary who tied pain and anxiety together.
Unfortunately, Elton Brand is the GM of a contending team with major depth issues who cannot afford to shut down a former no.1 pick to see psychologists and read books, and Markelle’s management team seems dead set on seeing him start in the NBA despite his issues, so we’re at an impasse. Markelle needs to be traded as soon as possible. Washington seems to be a natural fit, maybe being closer to home will motivate him, but with as toxic as that team is now, I doubt it. I really would love to see Markelle Fultz become a superstar, I will always root for him, but I think his time as a Sixer is up.
The Markelle Fultz situation continues to be one of the most bizarre and quite frankly sad sports stories in recent memory. I want Markelle to succeed, and I would love for it to be in a Sixers uniform. The recent news that Sixers teammates are concerned about his well-being is alarming. It’s easy to get caught up in the basketball side of things, but whatever he is dealing with or going through, from a human standpoint, I just hope this hiatus from the team gives him the ability to clear his mind and get back to a place where he feels comfortable and okay.
From Elton Brand’s perspective, the continuing of support for Markelle is vital. It’s also his due diligence to test his value on the trade market, considering the report that Markelle wants to play on another team might be true (which…who knows if it is). If you were to trade Markelle Fultz, most of the deals you would prefer to make cannot materialize until December 15th because that’s when players who signed in free agency become eligible to be traded. For that reason, I’m not sure we will see one until then. If I had to propose a trade that could happen now, Markieff Morris and Kelly Oubre Jr. for Fultz would give the Sixers an extra wing plus a versatile power forward in Morris. Ultimately though, we don’t know the situation with Markelle and the team’s relationship, and it’s likely we won’t know until he’s either dealt or returns to the team.
If I were Elton Brand, I would look to trade Markelle Fultz as soon as possible. At this point, it is unclear whether Fultz wants to play for the Sixers or be traded. The situation as a whole seems too far gone to repair. The misalignment of stories between Fultz, his agent, and the Sixers brass has been both confusing and embarrassing for all parties involved. While Fultz’ trade value remains unclear, a fresh start in a new (and hopefully dimmer) spotlight seems best for everyone. While there still could be much value for the Sixers in Fultz coming off the bench and developing in his own time on the second unit, it is unclear if that is an agreeable option for Markelle/his camp. As a GM, Brand’s job is to put the Sixers roster in the best position to win. Trading Fultz would eliminate what has been a difficult distraction for the whole team.
My trade scenario: Markelle Fultz is sent to the Suns for T.J. Warren.
This is one of those situations that I really understand pretty much every perspective and think that almost all of them are fairly reasonable. For the record, I do think he injured himself lifting weights or something and there is something there physically. I have always thought that it was physical causing the mental and not the other way around. Not that the two are disconnected, but I think it was physical first. Is it a distraction? Sure. I think the distraction can be managed though. I think what becomes challenging for Elton, Brett, and the organization is managing expectations for all stakeholders (Markelle’s team, teammates, coaches, fans, media). He clearly has potential, and he has shown some nice flashes this season. I don’t think all hope is lost. Not even close. The organization is in a tough spot of trying to balance development with trying to win now. I think the major issue right now is Markelle’s people. I think they are kind of fixated on optics as they pertain to Markelle’s situation. I read that his mother made him take down a tweet regarding mental health, because it made him seem soft. Now, when he is benched for half a game for TJ, he has to go see a specialist because it can’t be viewed as TJ possibly bringing more value than Markelle in any situation.
I think the whole Drew Hanlen situation blew up because he suggested that Markelle still wasn’t healthy and that could be damaging to his perceived value, which his team is super-sensitive about. I can’t say I blame them, but I do think that they might need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here – maybe consider the G-League as a short-term option to see if he can get back on track and find his game (assuming he is cleared physically). My prediction: He will be part of a trade that includes another underperforming prospect from one of the last couple of drafts. It is becoming clear that ownership wants to win now and boost value of the organization. I think they could be looking to sell soon, and if so, it would be better for them if this situation was resolved as soon as possible.
I’d like to start off saying I am one of Markelle Fultz’s biggest supporters. I’ve always went to bat for him, through thick and thin. I still believe in Markelle, and I think he’s going to have a solid career with another team. However, I have zero doubt that he’s burned all bridges with the Philadelphia 76ers moving forward. We all saw Elton Brand’s confused face during the press conference. While JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid will give their love to the public, this isn’t Care.com or some huge babysitting conglomeration. This is the NBA. The Jimmy Butler trade happened, for better or for worse. JJ, Joel, Ben, and Jimmy are grinders and will sacrifice everything to win a basketball game. We are a quarter of the way till the playoffs start, and there is zero time to concern themselves over Markelle’s current mental state.
This really hurts me to say. If I was Elton Brand, I would ship him the second another team would offer anything of value that could help the bench. My trade idea would be Markelle Fultz to the Indiana Pacers for Tyreke Evans. He’s solid in the pick and roll, can attack the rim, and play in the pick and pop – exactly the type of player we need to get us ready for the playoffs. Tyreke is averaging 10.5 points in 21.4 minutes per game. He’s shooting 37.8 percent from beyond the arc on 3.9 attempts per game and has a true shooting percentage of 47.6 percent. Tyreke is on a one year deal for $12.3 million and is an unrestricted free agent after this season. Tyreke hasn’t fit in well with the Pacers this year, and they have the depth to make this kind of move, as well as the track record with reclamation projects (Oladipo).
My biggest concern is the inability to truly determine if this is physical (injury), mental, or a combination. My thought, for the most part and albeit maybe naive, is that it is still a physical issue. My reasoning is ultimately that I don’t believe his teammates would still to this day be this unified in their support of him if they hadn’t seen him at some point actually look like his former self in at least some capacity. I have to believe there is some sort of recurring flare up of some form of injury that continues to prevent him from returning to form. With the Sixers history of diagnosing injuries, this can’t be ruled out.
With that said, Elton Brand must have, or at least I hope, more information on this than any of us are aware. If he does not have any actual medically correlated reason for Fultz’s performance, he needs to pull the trigger. The concept of “his value has never been lower” is relative to only the present, and while many say that in hopes it can rise again, it also has the capacity to fall. I’ve seen a lot of trade suggestions, and many involve multiple pieces and picks. I’m going to keep it simple: Markelle Fultz for Josh Jackson of Phoenix. The salaries match (it actually clears an extra $2 million or so for Philly), the contract length is the same, and both can’t be happy in their current roles. Phoenix could use Fultz and his ability to run the point, which even at his worst he has been able to manage, while he clearly won’t take shots from Devin Booker. Jackson has had his minutes reduced by 33% from last season to this season, and while many have discussed us attaining Trevor Ariza, I think Josh Jackson could use a change of scenery and maybe some mentorship from guys like JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler.
I agree with Dan on many things. The mystery regarding the injury is not only a headache to the fans, but clearly the team as well. I tend to think that there is some sort of physical injury because during his few games of summer league after he was drafted, he looked like the same kid in those Washington highlights we all tear up watching now. He sprained his ankle and missed the rest of the summer, and hasn’t looked the same since. When the shoulder/wrist/whatever injury was suffered is beyond me, and clearly beyond most of the general Sixers universe. On top of this injury, the individuals surrounding Fultz have constantly been in flux. The separating and now reconnecting with Keith Williams, the rocky Drew Hanlen saga, and Embiid making comments about the previous management’s handling of Markelle have left this 20 year old kid with what seems to be as many answers as we have. I truly feel for Markelle Fultz, the individual, as well as the Sixers player.
Elton Brand is in a sticky situation, especially for a greenhorn GM. Regardless of what may be believed about Fultz’s value, he is one of a handful of assets we have left. As Dan pointed out, our cap situation leaves us needing to match salaries in whatever we do. Generally speaking, I am anti-trade and would much rather prefer signing vets off the buyout scrap-heap. Trading Dario and Cov for Butler left us down a player, and Fultz’s absence leaves us down a second. While trading for a great player like a Bradley Beal would be awesome, it would involve us dishing out more players and shortening our roster. In a year where Jimmy Butler needs to be shown he can play with our guys here, I’m not sure depleting the roster of bodies is a good thing. If we can move Fultz for another player without shortening the already weak bench even further, I’d consider it. I think he needs a change of scenery. I’ve began to feel a bit of tension between his group and team management after the recent decision to see a shoulder specialist and subsequently miss games. Bottom line, I think the team and Markelle could benefit from a trade, especially if we can acquire a wing defender to come off the bench.
Since the last time we got together to discuss this, my expectations have been severely tempered for Markelle Fultz. At that time, he was playing within his limitations and making small, but noticeable improvements to his game. With the Jimmy Butler trade, the general trajectory for success and timeline for Markelle’s development were both accelerated. He was no longer afforded the opportunity to grow and play through mistakes with real Eastern Conference contending expectations now set for this team. I think this, in conjunction with Brett’s decision to go forward with TJ for stability in tighter moments, has squeezed Fultz out of the Sixers’ timeline. It’s a shame because if this were during any of the Process years, he would have been handed free reign, but the team cannot afford to give minutes to someone they do not trust at this time.
If I were Elton, I would look to complete one of two kinds of moves with a heavily protected first or second attached from the team taking on Fultz. I would look to add a proven average veteran wing talent on an expiring deal or someone on a rookie contract who is struggling with their current team. Orlando’s Terrence Ross or Phoenix’ Ariza makes sense for the first scenario, and Phoenix’ Josh Jackson and the Knicks’ Franky Smokes make sense for me in the second. I wish nothing but the best for him and hope he proves me wrong, but with Embiid and Co playing at this level now, time is running out.
Obviously, there is no point in beating on Bryan Colangelo for this mess, but this is his mess. That trade handcuffed a budding team to a kid, not a professional athlete, but a kid who cannot get out of his own way. I do feel for him, I really do. I think if we are being really honest with ourselves, there is nothing wrong with the shoulder. We know that. It is all between the ears. The first thing they need to do is release the results of these “specialist” visits. No team is going to give up anything of value for a player whose goods are literally damaged. Once everything comes back clean (which I expect to be the case), they can then gauge his trade value. Why do they have to gauge his trade value? Chances are that, especially with how mentally fragile he appears to be and the fanbase being as ((sometimes) rightfully) unforgiving as it is, he will never live this last straw down in Philadelphia. He will be drenched with boos if he ever plays a home game for the Sixers ever again. As for his teammates, I do believe they love Markelle as a person, but I cannot imagine that his latest antics have not strained those relationships. I think it is best for all parties to let the bird fly off on its own. If I had to put money on it, Markelle Fultz has played his last game as a Sixer.
As for possible trades, my favorite option sends Markelle back to the nation’s capital. The Wizards seem to be a ticking time bomb that might have already exploded. If they hold a yard sale, I have my eyes set on stretch-4 Markieff Morris. A Philadelphia native, the 6’10” 29-year old forward is on an expiring deal paying him $8.6 million. Markelle Fultz is owed around $8.3 million annually over the remainder of his rookie contract. The salaries work, but the player-for-player value does not match up. So, I think a protected first rounder would be enough to get it done. Is Morris worth it? Shooting 34% from three over his 9 year NBA career at his size and positional versatility make him an extremely attractive option for this Sixers team, not just this year, but for years to come if the sides can agree on a long-term deal this summer. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Markieff and Marcus battle it out for supremacy in the Eastern Conference Finals for the next few years?
Thank you for reading! As you can see in the graph above, the majority of PFO agrees that Markelle Fultz should be traded. To sum up, Justin Holiday, Markieff Morris, TJ Warren, Josh Jackson, Tyreke Evans, Kelly Oubre, and Terrence Ross were the names that came up in a potential trade. Trust the process, everyone!