Markelle Fultz Removed from 76ers’ Starting Lineup After Jimmy Butler Trade

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Markelle Fultz Removed from 76ers’ Starting Lineup After Jimmy Butler Trade
BROOKLYN, NY - NOVEMBER 4: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up prior to a game against the Brooklyn Nets on November 4, 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz, one of two players to start all 15 of the team’s games during the 2018-19 NBA season, will be removed from the starting lineup following the trade for Jimmy Butler.

Head coach Brett Brown confirmed Wednesday the new starting five will feature Butler, Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Wilson Chandler and Joel Embiid, per ESPN.com’s Tim Bontemps.

Rich Hofmann of The Athletic noted Brown said Fultz “has done nothing wrong,” but added a change was necessary after the blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 20-year-old University of Washington product has continued to struggle with his shooting after missing most of his rookie season because of a shoulder injury. He’s connected on 41.2 percent of his field goals, including 30.8 percent of his three-point attempts, and is making just 57.6 percent of his free throws.

His inability to create offense likely played a role in the Sixers’ decision to pursue Butler, who’s averaged 16.5 points in his career, including four seasons of at least 20.

Philly general manager Elton Brand said Tuesday the team’s acquisition of the four-time All-Star guard/forward from the Wolves doesn’t mean it lost faith in Fultz, though.

“Not at all. It wasn’t a changed view of Markelle’s future. It was more of a changed view of being able to get a superstar right now and seeing where other teams were,” he told reporters. “There are some really talented teams [in the Eastern Conference]. … It was just a chance to have our team take another leap.”

Fultz should still end up seeing ample playing time as the top reserve at both guard spots behind Simmons and Redick. And there’s still a chance for him to regain his starting role during the course of the campaign should he show consistent improvement as a shooter.

The 2017 No. 1 overall draft choice shot 47.6 percent from the field and 41.3 percent on threes during his one season of college ball, so it’s possible he returns to form.

For now, however, the Sixers are moving in a new direction with Butler as they attempt to establish themselves as a top contender in the NBA title chase.

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