If the latest report out of Philadelphia is to believeed, the long, strange saga of Markelle Fultz' tenure with the 76ers, and its sometimes bizarre turns, could be approaching an end -- or at least a deadline.
This long, comprehensive piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey chronicles all of the well-documented on and off-court struggles of the former No. 1 overall pick's tenure and looks at the road ahead, from the shoulder woes to the devolution of his shooting form to the conflicting health reports and questionable advice. Pompey reports that, just a year and a half after pegging him as a cornerstone of their future with the top pick, the Sixers might be ready to move on:
"Some sources have said that, despite the team's statements, Fultz is no longer in the Sixers' long-term plans. And they are no longer using his shoulder as an excuse for his performances."
As for moving on from him, Pompey isn't sure the Sixers would command much in return at this point:
"If the 76ers have tired of this saga and are considering trading Fultz, and multiple sources said they are, his trade value must have declined a great deal since the start of the season.
"The team might be able to get a late first-round pick for Fultz from a desperate club willing to take a chance, or the Sixers could try for a player with an expiriing contract. That would enable them to avoid paying the $9.7 million that Fultz is guaranteed for next season."
Any move involving Fultz has big implications for the rest of the Eastern Conference, and its perceived pecking order. Fultz, a former All-American at storied DeMatha Catholic (Md.) and the University of Washington, was universally considered the top player in the 2017 draft class; Celtics GM Danny Ainge famously used this leverage to trade out of the No. 1 slot, picking Jayson Tatum at No. 3 and getting a first-round pick from the 76ers in the process.
As the career trajectories of Tatum and Fultz continue to point in opposite directions, it only solidifies the trade as one of the all-time great lopsided deals in Boston's favor, recalling to the mind deals such as the famous 1980 deal with the Golden State Warriors that sent Robert Parish and a pick that became Kevin McHale to Boston in exchange for the rights to draft Joe Barry Carroll at No. 1 overall.
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