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Report: Markelle Fultz 'literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot'

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Report: Markelle Fultz 'literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot'

Updated: 10:14 p.m.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Markelle Fultz's shoulder saga has taken another turn.

After initially telling ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Fultz had his right shoulder drained of fluid during the preseason, Fultz's agent, Raymond Brothers, shared different medical details.

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

According to a team source, Fultz has been undergoing physiotherapy and has met with multiple specialists who have confirmed the Sixers' treatment plan. They are treating and monitoring Fultz on a daily basis for irritation and discomfort, per the team source.

Also, there is no structural damage to Fultz's shoulder, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark.

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

In the report published Tuesday, Brothers painted a grim picture of Fultz's current health.

"He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball,” Brothers said. “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."

The problem became apparent during preseason play when Fultz altered his free throw form. The 2017 No. 1 pick acknowledged the impact his shoulder was having on his shot but emphasized he was not going to use it as an excuse. Fultz did not pinpoint a specific cause of injury, rather that it was an ongoing situation. 

His struggles carried over into the regular season. It’s not just that Fultz hasn’t been scoring the ball, it’s that he’s been hesitant to shoot it, especially outside the paint. He is 9 for 27 from the field and has not taken a single three-pointer in his first four games (6.0 points in 19.0 minutes). Fultz averaged 5.0 three-point attempts per game and shot 41.3 percent from long range in his only year at Washington. 

Fultz is shooting 6 for 12 from the line, including some ugly misses. He wasn’t stellar from the line in college (64.9 percent) but he has visibly been out of sync in the pros. 

Fultz hasn't looked like the same player who led the Pac-12 and all freshmen in the nation in scoring last season (23.2 points).

"From a basketball perspective, it's been encouraging to see that Markelle can get any shot he wants during the games, but he has been unable to shoot the ball," Brothers said.

The Sixers have not shut down Fultz during these struggles. Wojnarowski reported there has not been a decision if Fultz will miss any games “in the immediate future.” Head coach Brett Brown was asked about that possibility at practice on Tuesday before the ESPN report was published. 

“That’s a fair question,” Brown said. “They’re going through that on their side of the office right now, just trying to come up with a thoughtful plan to deliver Markelle further into the season. I don’t know what that’s going to be. I will, like I always am, [be] directed by the medical staff.”

The Sixers have encouraged Fultz to attack the basket, where he has showcased his spin moves and physicality at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. Fultz didn’t pay any attention to his injury when he dove after a loose ball in Monday’s win over the Pistons.

“We can’t dismiss the fact that there is some concern that he obviously has with his shoulder,” Brown said. “We continue to look at it. We continue to try to stay on top of that. But the other parts of his game, I think are stuff you step back and you can understand why he was the first player chosen.”

Any injury, big or small, is a hot topic on the Sixers given their lengthy medical history. Fultz’s health is particularly significant, however, because of what the Sixers gave up to land him in June. The Sixers traded their 2017 first-round pick (third overall) and the coveted 2018 Lakers first-round pick to move up to No. 1. 

The Sixers made such a drastic move in part because of Fultz’s ability to complement Ben Simmons off the ball. The initial thought was to have Simmons at point guard and Fultz at shooting guard in the backcourt together. Fultz barely got any preseason playing time because of injuries and, as a result, started the season coming off the bench. The Sixers have gone with veteran Jerryd Bayless at the two instead. 

The Sixers are dealing with an injured rookie for a fifth consecutive season. Unlike Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Simmons, Fultz has been able to play. 

Source: Jahlil Okafor center of trade talks between Sixers, Pelicans

Source: Jahlil Okafor center of trade talks between Sixers, Pelicans

Updated: 6:20 p.m.

The Sixers and New Orleans Pelicans have engaged in trade talks regarding Jahlil Okafor, a league source has confirmed to CSNPhilly.com's Jessica Camerato. The Pelicans are one of multiple teams that have expressed interest in him.

USA TODAY's Sam Amick first reported the trade discussions Monday afternoon, noting that the Sixers are looking for a first-round pick.

ESPN's Marc Stein added the talks are "advanced."

Keith Smith, a contributor for RealGM.com, reported the deal was close and could be completed Monday, but that has now changed. Per Smith, the Sixers want to re-engage by bringing Jrue Holiday back to Philadelphia in an expanded deal. However, according to Smith, New Orleans does not want to trade Holiday. Instead, per the report, the more likely package is the Sixers' absorbing the salary of Alexis Ajinca in addition to receiving a protected first-round pick.

David Aldridge of NBA.com reports a deal is not imminent.

The protections on the pick will be crucial because the Pelicans would currently pick fifth in the draft.

According to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans are also interested in Nets big man Brook Lopez.

The Sixers have had a well-documented logjam at the five with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Okafor and Richaun Holmes. When all are healthy, only two play on a given night.

The Pelicans appear to be willing to take a chance on Okafor, who's flashed impressive low-post offense in his two years with the Sixers but continues to struggle defensively.

Stay tuned.

Nerlens Noel on trade talks, frustrations, Hinkie vs. Colangelo

Nerlens Noel on trade talks, frustrations, Hinkie vs. Colangelo

Nerlens Noel isn't just discussed often in Philly, he's also getting plenty of national attention as an obvious trade candidate. Fans from around the country of teams in need of a big, including Bill Simmons last weekend, have Noel on their radar. 

So it wasn't a huge surprise to see Noel pop up on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast Monday, given Woj's propensity to break juicy trade news.

There was no big revelation during the 40-minute interview, but Noel did say some interesting things about his NBA future, his relationship with two different GMs and the frustration of the last few years.

Here are some excerpts from the interview, which you can find here.

Noel on his playing time frustrations
"I think as a young player who really just wants to go out there and play the game he loves, it's really frustrating at this point in my career to not be able to really show what I'm capable of and show the steps I've taken year by year.

"(When I spoke out) I really just wanted to come out and give my opinion on it, speak how I was feeling. I wasn't necessarily wanting too much of a reaction, although it might have been inevitable. I tried to do it in the best way possible. It was an emotional thing at the time."

The adjustment from Sam Hinkie to Bryan Colangelo
"Did have to adjust a little bit. He (Hinkie) said he'd never trade me. It's a business regardless, but a guy who really values you to a high standard. And then overnight, your life changes and you're on the block and really uncertain about things and it changes your mindset on how you're gonna approach things. ... 

"As time went on, I met with Bryan a few weeks after he came to Philadelphia and it was a great meeting. ... We don't communicate at all on (trade stuff). We say what's up every time we see each other."

Did Noel foresee Joel Embiid's quick stardom?
"I was still pretty unsure [in the summer]. All I knew is what I am. I thought I was a player that could be utilized in a lot of different ways. With the addition of Joel, he's a great player, a special player. He deserves everything he has, and I think I still could have been utilized. 

"Maybe even communication on how things could look like moving forward. Everything was still in the fog and I was mainly focused on what I could do to get better throughout the whole summer."

Noel's reaction to fans who want him on their team
"It's definitely reassuring when you see people say they want you on their team. It tells yourself that you're doing the right thing. It's definitely a good feeling to see that and it keeps me going, but at the same time I do see how much love I get from the city of Philadelphia and how much they do talk about keeping me, so that's definitely something I appreciate, how much love that city has given to me since I first got there."