Markelle Fultz, amid trade rumors, works out for Sixers

Markelle Fultz, amid trade rumors, works out for Sixers

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Markelle Fultz arrived for a pre-draft workout Saturday evening at what could be his home for the foreseeable future.
The projected No. 1 pick traveled from Maryland to the Sixers' training complex as trade talks buzzed around the Celtics and Sixers swapping the first and third selections.
The two teams have agreed to a deal that will be finalized Monday, four days before the draft, as first reported by TNT’s David Aldridge. According to The Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach, the Sixers will send the Celtics this year's No. 3 pick and one protected future first-round pick from the Sixers for the top selection in Thursday's draft (see story).
In the midst of all this, Fultz took the court in front of a packed house of Sixers executives, coaches and players, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Robert Covington. Basketball is about all he can control right now. 
“I don't really pay attention to everything that's going on,” Fultz said. “I'm truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Fultz went through individualized drills in the portion of his workout open to the media. He struggled to hit his shots consistently in a three-point exercise. Fultz looked as though perhaps he was affected by the three-hour car ride to Camden, which had been slowed down by traffic and delayed his scheduled start time. Fultz said he didn’t mind the travel, though, and slept during the trip. 
“It's almost like AAU, driving out of town,” he said. “Any chance I get an opportunity to (play basketball), I'm going to be excited.”
One showing wasn’t going to be enough to deter NBA teams that had watched Fultz average 23.2 points (47.6 percent from the field, 41.3 percent from long range), 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season. He led the Pac-12 in scoring and was first among all freshmen in the nation. 
Part of the pre-draft process is for teams to learn about a prospect’s medical history. Fultz sat out five of the last seven games last season because of right knee soreness. He said he is fully recovered. 
“My knee is great,” Fultz said. “As you can see, I'm jumping pretty high and everything like that.”
Following the workout, Embiid, Simmons and Covington talked with Fultz and posed for a photo. That moment was likely a glimpse into the Sixers' future, one that Fultz easily sees himself fitting into. 
“It would be great,” he said. “Get up and down. They're big on defense so I think the tools that I have to be a defensive player I think would help them get out in transition. I'm a pretty good shot blocker for a point guard, so I think helping them with that, everything would pretty much help with that.”

Fultz would be part of an untraditional backcourt with Simmons, wherein the Sixers plan to start a 6-foot-10 point guard. The team has been looking for a guard that can play off the ball in a combo role to complement Simmons, who is more of a facilitator than an outside shooter. 
“I play with great players all the time, so whatever he needs me to do,” Fultz said. “If I'm running the floor or I'm setting the screen for him or giving it back, it doesn't matter. I'll be a great teammate.”
Fultz already is familiar with Philadelphia, so familiar he named Larry's as his favorite cheesesteak spot. He entered the training complex wearing a Sixers hat to show appreciation for the place he has frequented. Last season, Fultz attended a Sixers home game as part of his own scouting of potential landing spots. 
“I saw the team still fighting hard,” he said. “The most important thing was the fans in the building were still there no matter what. That was big. Of course being out there, I could imagine myself on the court, helping the team out for sure. 

"That's what I do every game. I watch, just think about if I was on the team, what could happen?”
He will find out when his name is called Thursday. 

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

Sixers Notes: Eager for rowdy opener; Joel Embiid talks back-to-backs

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers' first home game is Friday night, and if their season opener in Washington, D.C., was any indication of the fans’ excitement level, the Wells Fargo Center will be rowdy. 

Sixers fans traveled to the Capital One Arena on Wednesday and started a “Trust the Process” chant less than a minute into the game, much to the dismay of the Wizards crowd.

That enthusiasm and loyalty was not lost on the players. They are ready to feed off the vibe at the Wells Fargo Center when they host the Celtics. 

“First of all, Philly fans are passionate and I love that about them,” Joel Embiid said. “Just me going out there, playing hard and making plays just to get them off their seat and cheer and yell and just go crazy, I just love that type of atmosphere. It gets me going, too.”

Some players block out the noise from the stands, especially if they aren’t hitting their shots. Embiid, though, wants to hear the support and repay it on the court. 

“If I miss foul shots and then they’re cheering, I know that the next play I’ve got to do better,” he said. “I’ve got to make a crazy block or I’ve got to make a crazy play to get them going. Then that gets me going too because I love the excitement. Since I’ve been in Philly, I’ve embraced it and I just love it.”

The players don’t want the fans to hold back, either. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has played in intense game environments overseas and welcomes the high energy in Philadelphia. 

“Here, whenever you go in the street, people call your name, cheer for you,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “During the game, it gets you going. The crazier they are, the better you feel and the better you’re going to play. It’s the best thing.”

Brett Brown always has emphasized the responsibility he feels to give the crowd a quality product. He reiterated that doing his job well is on his mind every game. For the first time in his tenure, Brown can debut a roster constructed with direction and a foundation.

“I’m confident and comfortable with what we’ve built, that we can deliver this year’s team to a court knowing that the base is there, there are people we really like and see as part of the future,” he said. 

Fans at the home opener will receive a t-shirt with caricatures of Brown, Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, JJ Redick, Markelle Fultz and Dario Saric on it. 


The team also is launching the PhilaFanGram camera system that fans can use to take photos with a specially-designed Sixers-themed filter. 

Back-to-backs for Embiid?
Embiid is awaiting word from the medical staff to hear if he will be cleared for back-to-back games. Following Friday's game against the Celtics, the Sixers travel to Toronto the play the Raptors on Saturday. 

"Yesterday I played and my body feels great today," Embiid said. "My knee feels amazing. I feel like if I had to play today, I feel like I would play depending on how I feel. But I feel like I’m ready."

Embiid was held out of consecutive games last season. 

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

USA Today Images

Amazingly, Sixers have avoided NBA's rash of early-season injuries

MIAMI — Brooklyn's Jeremy Lin was horrified to see what happened to Gordon Hayward, whose season almost certainly ended in a most disturbing fashion five minutes into the Celtics' season-opener.

A night later, Lin met a similar fate.

Here's some of what should be celebrated from the opening nights of the NBA season: Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 37-point game, Cleveland's LeBron James was one assist away from a triple-double, Houston beat Golden State on the Warriors' ring night and Miami's Hassan Whiteside went for 26 points and 22 rebounds.

It all seems overshadowed by injuries.

No, this is not the start the NBA wanted.

"It's tough watching that happen to anybody in the NBA," said Golden State guard Shaun Livingston, whose horrific knee injury from 2007 -- so bad that doctors originally thought he could lose his leg -- was compared to the grotesque nature of Hayward's injury Tuesday night. "It's all a brotherhood. You want to see guys succeed."

Many members of the brotherhood are ailing, none causing bigger shock waves than Hayward.

San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard hasn't played yet this season because of a quadriceps injury. The Warriors sent Draymond Green to get an MRI on an aching knee, which had knocked him out early in their season opener. Houston's Chris Paul missed a game at Sacramento on Wednesday with knee pain. Cleveland's Isaiah Thomas won't be back until January, at least, while recovering from a hip injury.

And those guys, along with Hayward, are just the hurting All-Stars from last season.

"There's no doubt we'll get him back to be better than he was before," said Mark Bartelstein, Hayward's agent.

Lin's injury was nowhere near as visibly horrifying as Hayward's, but the end result was the same -- a bad landing at Indiana on Wednesday left him in tears and saying, "I'm done, I'm done."

His personal diagnosis was officially confirmed Thursday morning: Lin ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee, the Nets said.

"We feel awful that the injury will cost him the season," Nets general manager Sean Marks said.

Plenty of other teams are missing key players and would-be starters.

Among them: Utah's Dante Exum may miss the whole season with a dislocated left shoulder, Miami's Rodney McGruder had surgery on a stress fracture in his leg, Phoenix's Brandon Knight blew his knee out in the summer, San Antonio's Tony Parker (leg) is still several weeks from returning, Indiana's Glenn Robinson III (ankle) may miss half the season and Milwaukee's Jabari Parker (knee) has months of rehab work left.

"You worry about guys getting nicked up," Memphis forward Brandan Wright said. "Lot of big injuries ... You want to just take care of your guys."

Hayward had surgery Wednesday night and is likely to miss the remainder of the season, after breaking his leg and dislocating his ankle in Boston's opener at Cleveland.

Livingston had no interest in seeing the replay of Hayward's injury. He knows the road that awaits the Boston star.

"I'm not watching the video, but I've seen the pictures," Livingston said. "Prayers go out to him. It's going to be a long road back for him but if he puts his mind to it, is a man of faith, keeps good people around him ... it's going to be a long rehab for him but he's very capable of coming back and being the same player."