Chris Szagola/Associated Press
Swingman Jimmy Butler has been with the Philadelphia 76ers for just seven games, but he offered nothing but support to guard Markelle Fultz on Tuesday.
Dave Uram of KYW Newsradio shared Butler’s comments, in which he said the team is “in his corner” and, “We want him to be great.”
This isn’t the first time Butler has commented on Fultz. At his introductory press conference after he was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Butler said of the 20-year-old: “As long as he’s going hard and working every day, he has my respect. … I know he’s just gonna thrive. He’s going to be successful,” per Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.
The saga regarding when—or if—Fultz will return to the 76ers has swirled around the team. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft will have his shoulder examined Wednesday and noted Philadelphia isn’t entertaining trade offers for point guard T.J. McConnell because of the uncertainty with Fultz.
Wojnarowski wrote Fultz “has lost the ability to carry out and follow through on long jump shots, and there has been internal and external debate about how much of this perplexing circumstance is physical versus mental.”
Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, said his client wouldn’t practice or play until he saw a specialist, per David Aldridge of The Athletic, which head coach Brett Brown called “red flag-type news,” per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
According to Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report, general manager Elton Brand was surprised when Brothers said Fultz wouldn’t even practice until seeing a specialist but still offered the organization’s support.
Things have not developed like the 76ers hoped when they made the University of Washington product the top pick. He played a mere 14 games in his rookie campaign and attempted a single three-pointer as shoulder issues impacted his shooting ability.
While he has attempted 14 three-pointers in 19 games this season, he has connected on just 28.6 percent of them.
The question now is whether Philadelphia will trade him—Pompey reported “Fultz is no longer in the Sixers’ long-term plans”—or hope he returns and lives up to the expectations that came with his draft status.
Even with Fultz’s situation up in the air, the 76ers are 14-8 and 5-1 in their last six games. They appear to be a threat to win the Eastern Conference with Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid forming a daunting trio, and Fultz’s availability will have minimal impact given his lack of production in the early stages of his career.