CAMDEN, N.J — Markelle Fultz will see a shoulder specialist for a consultation on Monday in New York, as recommended by his agent Raymond Brothers, Sixers general manager Elton Brand confirmed Tuesday. He won’t participate in team practices or games until that consultation.
That much we know.
The rest of Fultz’s situation is murkier.
Brand and head coach Brett Brown responded to the many questions about Fultz, but many still remain. Neither knew why Fultz went from saying “everything feels good” on Nov. 6 to seeking outside consultation.
“I’m not sure,” Brand said. “Whatever it is, we’ll support him. We just want the best for him, and we’ll figure out a way to get that out of him.”
It’s possible the normal “bumps and bruises” Brown and Fultz said the 2017 No. 1 pick was dealing with two weeks ago may not have been as innocuous as they sounded then.
Brand said there had been specific conversations about Fultz’s shoulder, as well as other ailments that he classified as minor — not the kind of things that would keep someone “medically off the court.”
“Yeah, I’m sure there [were conversations]," Brand said. "Other things, too. Other things that players who are playing more than 20 minutes a game complain about or get treatment for.”
However, Brand said this isn't the first time Fultz will see an outside specialist.
“In the last year, yes, he’s seen specialists per Raymond’s recommendation," he said. "I don’t know how much we can talk about, but yes, he’s seen specialists.”
Brown was surprised by the news. He thought the scapular imbalance which sidelined Fultz for 68 games as a rookie was 100 percent healed.
“It was my understanding that it was pointing in the right direction, that it was good,” Brown said. “I was playing him, he’s lifting weights, it’s all good. So, this situation has come up, and we’ll deal with it.
“This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard. But if it’s that real that he needs to go seek further consultation, then we support him. In my eyes, it’s not complicated. That’s what it is, and we’ll support him.”
The motivation for Brothers seeking a consultation for Fultz remains unclear. Both Brand and Brown said they didn’t want to speculate that there might be a correlation with T.J. McConnell taking Fultz's backup point guard minutes in the Sixers’ win over the Suns on Monday night (see story).
Brand did say he spoke “a little about on-court stuff” with Brothers but that he wanted to focus on Fultz’s medical situation.
The one obvious answer is who replaces Fultz while he’s out. There’s no question it’s McConnell. Brand wouldn’t entertain the possibility of external options until the Sixers know more.
“We’ll see after the agent-recommended consultation,” Brand said. "We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see how he feels and what’s going on. I’m sure T.J. is going to play a lot more minutes. I’m really glad we have a player like T.J. in the fold to be able to step up like I’m sure he will.”
To add another twist to an already bizarre story, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that Fultz “participated in light shooting with teammates” on Tuesday, though the team did not hold a formal practice.
The last Fultz-related question Brown answered was about whether he sometimes wishes he could just walk into work and have a normal day.
“Our definition of normal in this building and with our program is probably different than most,” he said. “I’m personally fine with it. You just roll. You have to absorb things and move. ... I think that we’re pretty steady and consistent around here. I hope we are.
"I’m the head coach, so I hope that is generated, as much as anybody, by me. And we’ll deal with this thing with Markelle accordingly.”
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