The Sixers made another big deal before the trade deadline, ending the Markelle Fultz saga in Philadelphia. The former No. 1 pick is headed to the Orlando Magic. In return, the Sixers get Jonathon Simmons, a first-round pick and a second-round pick.
The Magic are sending Jonathon Simmons, a Thunder first and Cavs second to the Sixers for Fultz, per source. https://t.co/OaVTy5LyIO— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) February 7, 2019
Fultz has not played since November and is still rehabbing from his diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome. In trading Fultz, the Sixers no longer have to worry about his sizable cap hit for next season. Orlando is set to pay him $9.7 million for 2019-20. In 33 games for the Sixers over two seasons, Fultz averaged 7.7 points on 41.4 percent shooting. He shot 26.7 percent from beyond the arc.
The Sixers get another bench piece in the deal, adding Jonathon Simmons to their depth. The 29-year-old guard is averaging 6.9 points in 41 games this season.
Philadelphia also gets some draft assets back after trading a pair of firsts for Tobias Harris. The 2020 pick via Oklahoma City is top-20 protected. With Oklahoma City in the playoffs on a yearly basis, barring a substantial roster change, that pick should convey.
Coincidentally, it’s the same pick they got from the Thunder when they traded Jerami Grant for Ersan Ilyasova at the start of the 2016-17 season. They then traded that pick to Orlando on draft night in 2017 to select Anzejs Pasecniks (he’s never coming over).
In addition, the Sixers get the Cavs 2019 second-round pick. That selection is likely to fall early in the round, so Philadelphia could get a nice young piece in the upcoming draft.
The Fultz Saga Ends in Philly
This trade spells the end to a long saga that began on June 19, 2017. That day, former Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, struck a deal with the Celtics to move up in the draft. That deal also included a future first-round pick. Still, at that point, Fultz was the guy to get for the Sixers.
His days in Philadelphia started off rocky. He started the first four games of his rookie season before a mysterious shoulder injury sidelined him for the better part of 65 games. When Fultz returned, he didn’t have much of a jump-shot, but he displayed a lot of the tools that made him the top pick in 2017.
Unfortunately, Fultz was unable to contend with the physical nature of the playoffs and was benched for T.J. McConnell late in the Miami series.
Over the summer of 2018, Fultz began working with NBA skills coach Drew Hanlen to rebuild his shot. Hanlen teased Fultz’s progression and when preseason hit, we saw some of those results with an improved form. Fultz began the season in the starting lineup, but as the weeks went along, his shot regressed.
An embarrassing air ball three combined with the return of a hitch in his free throw proved that things still weren’t right with the 20-year-old guard. Fultz moved to the bench upon the addition of Jimmy Butler and played his last game on November 19. After an underwhelming first half against the Suns, Brett Brown went to McConnell over Markelle and that was that.
The very next day, Fultz’s agent recommended that Markelle get checked out by specialists and further investigate the mysterious shoulder injury that had plagued him for so long.This came as news to the Sixers as Raymond Brothers went to national media outlets before calling Elton Brand or Brett Brown about his recommendation.
After a couple of weeks visiting with doctors, Fultz was diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. The condition is diagnosed via process of elimination and affects the nerves that innervate the shoulder and upper chest areas.
There is no long-term cure for thoracic outlet syndrome, but symptoms can be alleviated with physical therapy. Fultz flew out to L.A. to with with former renowned Lakers physical therapist, Judy Seto. In mid-January, Fultz returned to Philly to continue shoulder rehabilitation and there hasn’t been much of a progress update since then.
The way this ended is extremely unfortunate for Philadelphia, but it’s probably best to move on at this point. The front office likely didn’t believe Fultz would come back and perform even close to his draft potential or play without ailment at all.
The Sixers have made numerous moves, but could still be active on the buy-out market. Wesley Matthews and Wayne Ellington are two guys to keep an eye out for over the next day or two.