Tom Dougherty

Why a trade isn't Sixers' answer for the Markelle Fultz problem

Why a trade isn't Sixers' answer for the Markelle Fultz problem

The Sixers have a Markelle Fultz problem, and the Jimmy Butler trade raises valid questions about how the 2017 No. 1 overall pick fits into the team’s short-and-long-term plans. This is the current state of affairs with Fultz. One season and 16 games into his NBA career, we’re wondering if the 20-year-old is a “colossal bust,” and if the Sixers should trade him.

No, really, and this didn’t start with Monday’s bizarre free-throw attempt in Miami. That was the decayed cherry on top of this strange fiasco. A lot has happened in Fultz’s short time here, and not much of it has been positive.

The grim reality of the Butler trade is this: The Process is over. The Sixers have entered Post-Process, and Post-Process is essentially win-now mode. A consequence is that the Sixers can no longer afford to bank on hitting the lottery, and Fultz is still very much a lottery ticket.

Butler is a Sixer, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll be donning the PHILA uniform for a long time. That doesn’t exactly bode well for Fultz. What we’ve learned in the first 16 games is that Fultz and Ben Simmons cannot coexist on the court, as highlighted by NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh.

All of this brings us to, what should the Sixers do with Fultz?

When we factor in all the concerns — the hesitation to shoot outside the restricted area, that shot, public struggles, etc. — the return on a Fultz trade would be minimal unless he's packaged as part of a bigger deal.

If there is a trade involving Fultz that will help elevate the Sixers even higher in the NBA hierarchy, then, sure, it makes sense to move him. But with a damaged on-court reputation, it's hard to see Fultz being the centerpiece of a bigger move.

At this point, there’s more value in the Sixers trusting the culture they’ve built and entrusting the coaching staff to resurrect Fultz. If anything, Butler should take away some of the spotlight, and that’s not the worst thing either.

Most of Fultz’s obstacles have been mental, and with Butler here, he doesn't have to be a star. Instead, he can focus on doing what he does well and work on his game with a little less pressure. On the court, he’s attacked the rim effectively and his defense has improved, but with a jump shot that ineffective, it’s hard to harp on the positives.

We saw the first piece of fallout Wednesday when Brett Brown removed Fultz from the starting lineup. Fultz captained the second unit and managed eight points in 21 minutes. It’s the right move because the numbers support that Fultz plays considerably better without Simmons.

That’s the immediate repercussion, but the big picture presents a more complicated conundrum. If the Sixers no longer view Fultz as a future star, should they move quickly to denounce Bryan Colangelo’s miscalculation and prevent another potential Jahlil Okafor situation? There's an argument that’s the best course of action.

We're one year removed and it looks like Fultz will not be the top player in his draft. He may not even be a top-10 player, but he’ll forever have the No. 1 pick designation. Accordingly, Fultz will be in the spotlight and there’s been plenty of drama to beat that bust drum.

Brand refused Tuesday to say the Butler trade was a reflection of Fultz. Instead, “it’s more of a team view of trying to get a superstar right now.” It’s a bleak perspective, but it’s hard to envision Fultz developing into the star we once thought he could be.

That doesn’t mean Fultz can’t evolve into a piece to the puzzle. If Fultz can still help, then there's more value in holding onto that hand than folding. This isn't Okafor all over again — there is still a role here for Fultz.

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Future Flyers Report: Wade Allison finally makes season debut for WMU

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Future Flyers Report: Wade Allison finally makes season debut for WMU

Before this week begins, let's check-in on the Flyers' prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• Wade Allison's sophomore season was cut short because of a torn ACL. It was a shame too, because the right winger was making a ton of noise at Western Michigan.

Allison returned to WMU for his junior season despite rumblings that the Flyers thought he was ready for the pros and wanted to sign him to an entry-level contract.

The 21-year-old's junior campaign didn't get off the ground until Friday night against the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Allison did what he's become accustomed to doing for the Broncos. Score a goal.

WMU rested him Saturday but having Allison back is a huge boost for the Broncos. It's also good news for the Flyers' prospect. His name was thrown around in the Hobey Baker conversation last season.

• Until Wyatt Kalynuk gives us a reason not to include him in this report, we're going to feature him heavily. Kalynuk had yet another productive week for the No. 20 Badgers.

Kalynuk potted his fifth goal of the season Friday night in Wisconsin's 3-2 loss to No. 16 Minnesota and then picked up his sixth assist Saturday in the Badgers' 3-1 win over the Golden Gophers.

A seventh-round pick in 2017, Kalynuk has developed nicely under the tutelage of Tony Granato and Mark Osiecki (see story). He put himself on the map in his freshman campaign and now, he's taking off running.

The defenseman leads the Badgers with 11 points and is among the top NCAA defensemen in scoring as well.

• Perhaps a forgotten prospect of this report is David Kase, a 2015 fifth-round draft pick. But Kase is flashing some high-end skill and making noise in his first season in North America.

Kase had a pair of two-point games last week, with a two-assist game Friday and a goal and an assist Saturday. He now has four goals and nine points in 10 games.

The winger has good speed and a solid skill set but is undersized. That doesn't matter much anymore, though. Kase is having a heck of a start to his Phantoms career.

Quick hits
• Another stat-stuffing week for Morgan Frost, who had three points in two games, including his 12th multi-point game of the season. Frost is third in the OHL with 36 points.

Joel Farabee had a two-assist night for Boston University on Saturday night. He's up to five points in seven games in his freshman season.

• Isaac Ratcliffe had two assists Friday and a goal Saturday to increase his season point total to 24 in 19 games.

 Tanner Laczynski had a two-goal game for Ohio State on Friday night and is averaging a point per game in his junior season with the Buckeyes.

German Rubtsov missed Saturday's game but had a goal and an assist Friday night to extend his point streak to three games. Rubtsov has really adjusted well to the AHL and elevated himself back into the category of an exciting prospect.

Rubtsov has six goals and 10 points in 12 games this season.

Carter Hart stopped 16 of 18 shots in his lone start last week. In his last four games, Hart has a .903 save percentage, which isn't great but an improvement.

• Wyatte Wylie (Everett, WHL) saw his point streak reach three games with an assist Friday and a goal and an assist Saturday. Wylie has eight points in his last six games and 18 points in 19 games this season.

 Yale defenseman Jack St. Ivany potted his first collegiate goal and had his first multi-point game Friday against Harvard. St. Ivany has three points in five games this season.

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Jimmy Butler's Sixers debut expected to be Wednesday vs. Magic

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AP Images

Jimmy Butler's Sixers debut expected to be Wednesday vs. Magic

Jimmy Butler will be a Philadelphia 76er pending NBA approval, which is expected to be completed Monday.

Butler clearly missed the Sixers' 112-106 overtime loss Saturday night to the Memphis Grizzlies when Brett Brown was forced to play with just nine players.

With the trade call still pending, Butler's Sixers debut will have to wait until at least Wednesday in Orlando, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

That means Brown will have to be creative again with his lineups Monday night in Miami against the Heat. In Memphis, Brown rolled with a small lineup of Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, JJ Redick, Landry Shamet and Joel Embiid.

The Sixers were also without Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. Chandler could play Monday, which gives Brown another body to throw into his rotation. Muscala is out with a fractured nose and facial laceration.

Soon enough, though, Butler will be wearing a Sixers uniform and we'll finally find out how he'll gel with Embiid and Simmons — something we've been wondering about for the past 24 hours.

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