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Sixers' handling of Markelle Fultz's injury reeks of confusion

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Sixers' handling of Markelle Fultz's injury reeks of confusion

Updated: 9:25 p.m.

Anybody else confused? 

For a team that has been ultra cautious and conservative in its handling of injuries, the latest news from Markelle Fultz's agent, Raymond Brothers, seems bewildering at best.

Here’s what he originally told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

Markelle had a shoulder injury and fluid drained out of the back of his shoulder. He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball. He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.

Then Brothers corrected and clarified some information:

He had a cortisone shot on Oct. 5, which means fluid was put into his shoulder — not taken out.

My intention earlier was to let people know that he's been experiencing discomfort. We will continue to work with (Sixers president of basketball operations) Bryan Colangelo and the medical staff.

Still ... literally can’t raise his arm to shoot? If this is the case, why in the world would he be playing? He’s looked awful in his first four games as a pro. If you look at his shooting form from this free throw attempt in the Raptors game, it’s clear something’s up.

But if you watch this block or drive in the Wizards game, he appears to be able to raise his arms to perform the required basketball acts.

So what is really going on here? Fultz's agent broke the news of the shoulder update, not the club. Again, I’ll ask why a team that is so rooted in sports science and not rushing young players back from injuries would put Fultz out there and possibly make things worse? Did the Sixers not believe this was something serious? Do they think it’s a psychological thing? Even by Sixers standards, this one is strange.

According to Brothers, Fultz had the cortisone shot, which caused him to miss some preseason action. Brett Brown has admitted the shoulder has been nagging Fultz, but clearly the doctors and the organization didn’t think it warranted shutting him down.

He is shooting 33.3 percent from the floor, 50 percent from the free throw line, and has not attempted a three-point shot. In his lone college season, he shot 47.6 from the floor and 41.3 from three-point range. Wouldn’t the prudent organizational approach be to sit the kid and let the shoulder settle down? Or do the Sixers feel this is the kind of nagging injury the rookie should play through? Out of character for them but possible? Something stinks here. There is a definite disconnect.

After his botched public relations handling of Joel Embiid’s knee injury last season, Colangelo promised to be more forthcoming on the injury front.

This doesn’t feel like transparency.

Joel Embiid questionable vs. Jazz with left knee soreness

Joel Embiid questionable vs. Jazz with left knee soreness

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid is questionable for the Sixers' Monday's matchup against the Jazz but the big man expects to play. 

Embiid will be a game-time decision because of left knee soreness. He is experiencing tightness and will go through pregame warmups to see how he reacts. After that, the call will up be up to him. 

"My whole body's a little bit sore, but I think I should be playing tonight," Embiid said. "If I feel good, I'll play. It's not on them (the Sixers). I think it's more on me."

Embiid took three-point shots and free throws after shootaround Monday. He did not attribute the discomfort to one play in particular. He took a tough spill Saturday against the Warriors but said that wasn't the specific cause.

"Maybe just a little bit because I landed on both of my knees," Embiid said. "It wasn't a little bit painful but it's nothing to be worried about." 

Embiid said his questionable status was not because of needing a day to rest. Embiid played 33 minutes Saturday. In fact, he said he was going to be "set free, basically" in terms of his minutes following that game. 

Embiid shot "a little bit" at Sunday's practice and did not go through shootaround Monday, something he has been doing to make keep his body ready for the game itself. 

"There's still a schedule in place," Embiid said. "I'm not cleared for back-to-backs yet. I expect at some point this season to be playing back-to-backs. You've just got to follow the plan and see how my body reacts. But it's been going well so far." 

Embiid has sat out twice this season, the last time being against the Jazz in Salt Lake City. The Sixers won that game, 104-97. 

The Sixers know what they have to do if Embiid cannot play. Dario Saric scored 25 points and JJ Redick added 20 in the Sixers' victory over the Jazz. Richaun Holmes started that night in place of Embiid, but he also is questionable because of gastroenteritis. Expect Amir Johnson, who did not play against the Warriors, to see more minutes if neither big can play. 

"In that case [without Embiid], we need to share the ball, we need to move a lot, we need to play a little bit faster," Saric said. "Try to attack Utah in the fast break because they are a really good defensive team of the half court." 

Jerryd Bayless is cleared to return after missing the last six games because of a left wrist injury. Justin Anderson (left leg) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) are out. 

Markelle Fultz progressing, but not ready to return to Sixers yet

Markelle Fultz progressing, but not ready to return to Sixers yet

Updated: 2:45 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Markelle Fultz isn't cleared to play just yet.

The Sixers rookie was reevaluated Sunday for right shoulder soreness and scapular muscle imbalance and will be reevaluated again in approximately 2-3 weeks, the team announced. 

His return date will be based on how he handles training and practices. An examination by Dr. Ben Kibler, Medical Director of the Shoulder Center of Kentucky at the Lexington Clinic, showed Fultz's soreness and muscle balance is improving. Fultz met with Kibler on Oct. 29 and has seen multiple shoulder specialists. 

The rehab plan is for Fultz to continue with physiotherapy treatment.

"Just the fact we expect to get back into full basketball activity soon," Brett Brown said after practice Sunday, "I don't know the exact timeframe of that, but the news is good in relation to the improvement of his shoulder, enough for us to put out a press release saying what I just said and look forward to bringing him into the team and playing basketball again."

The No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA draft has appeared in only four games this season, averaging 6.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists off the bench. He has been battling the shoulder discomfort since training camp, and his shot was visibly affected by it.

Fultz has been traveling with the Sixers. He is staying engaged with the team during his own pregame warmups, assisting with rebounding after practices and staying incorporated with teammates off the court. 

Bayless to return
The Sixers anticipate getting one player back from injury Monday.

Brown expects Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) will play against the Jazz. Bayless went through practice Sunday. Brown looks forward to having Bayless' veteran experience, playmaking, and on-ball defense back in the mix. Bayless has missed the last six games and doesn't plan to have any minute restrictions on his return. 

"It's feeling OK," Bayless said of his wrist. "It's feeling like it's ready to go. I'm excited to play and be back out there." 

Justin Anderson (left leg) and Nik Stauskas (right ankle) remain sidelined. As a result of all the injuries, guards T.J. McConnell and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have seen a bump in minutes.