76ers

Bryan Colangelo explains why Markelle Fultz played hurt

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers are calling a timeout for Markelle Fultz to address his right shoulder soreness.

Fultz will miss the next three games and will be reevaluated next Tuesday, a decision Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said was mutual between Fultz and the team. 

"I think that it's appropriate to take a step back, let him take a breath and get him healthy and ready to resume play hopefully next week," Colangelo said Wednesday morning, the day after Fultz's agent Raymond Brothers spoke to ESPN about Fultz's health. 

Fultz has had "a couple" of scans and ultrasounds, Colangelo said, and he does not have structural damage. Fultz most recently met with a shoulder expert Tuesday who has worked with baseball players. Fultz has received a cortisone shot, is doing physiotherapy treatment and is being monitored daily by the Sixers.

"Nothing's wrong with Markelle Fultz," Colangelo said.  

The exact cause of the shoulder soreness is unknown. There is a not a specific moment of injury and the Sixers are looking back to determine how it occurred. 

Fultz changed his shot form during the offseason in October. The Sixers became aware of the shoulder soreness in late September. The team is trying to pinpoint if Fultz's shoulder became irritated because of the change in form, or if he changed his form because of the soreness. 

What is known is Fultz has been hesitant to shoot away from the basket. The 41-percent three-point shooter in college has not attempted a trey in his first four NBA games. The soreness is most visible when Fultz is at the free throw line. His uncomfortable form became the subject of social media fodder on opening night. 

"There was no medical reason not to play him," Colangelo said. "He was cleared to play and he wanted to play. That's why he was playing. His reluctance to shoot, obviously his shot mechanics have been affected by whatever's going on, or vice versa."

On Tuesday, Brothers initially told ESPN Fultz had his shoulder drained. Later in the evening, the agent said there was no draining but rather Fultz had a cortisone shot. 

There was an hours-long gap in between the two reports and the Sixers' communication with Brothers as he traveled on a plane. In the meantime, Fultz retweeted the ESPN article and liked another tweet related to it. Colangelo was not fazed by Fultz's reaction on social media. 

"I would love to know the statistics of retweets, whether players actually do that or if people do that for them or friends do that for them," Colangelo said. "It's something that I don't really pay attention to. There is noise out there but it certainly doesn't affect our decision-making. I know I'm aligned with the agent, which probably manifested itself in the correction last night. … The bottom line, I think we're all aligned." 

Of course, Sixers fans want to be aligned with news about the players' health, too. After the team's long history with injuries, information is key, especially as the expectations for success are heightened this season. Prior to the ESPN report, the Sixers had not said Fultz received a shot. 

"I don't think a cortisone shot treating a shoulder that we reported as sore is necessarily cause for a (press) release or cause for an announcement," Colangelo said, adding, "I think we've been pretty transparent." 

Fultz will join the Sixers when they travel this weekend to Dallas and Houston, where he will continue to receive treatment. The Sixers' next game after Fultz's reevaluation is the following day against the Hawks. 

"No one's panicking inside. The sky's not falling," Colangelo said. "Markelle Fultz is going to be a great basketball player for this organization and we're confident that we're going to get this thing resolved."