Markelle Fultz May Not Return This Year, Sixers GM Elton Brand Hints

Over the past few weeks, Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz found himself the subject of a number of trade rumors that hinted at a chance of a fresh start with a new team. It now appears, however, that the former first overall draft pick might not even play another game this season, as he continues to deal with a series of mysterious injuries that have affected his shooting form.

On Saturday, a report from ESPN cited 76ers general manager Elton Brand, who told reporters earlier in the day that the team has no specific timetable for Fultz's return to the court. The 20-year-old former Washington Huskies guard last played for the Sixers on November 19, seeing only seven minutes of action as Philadelphia beat the Phoenix Suns, per Basketball-Reference. Earlier this month, Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and has spent most of December undergoing physical therapy in Los Angeles.

When asked about Markelle Fultz's most likely return date, Brand was cagey about the matter, saying that it has yet to be determined whether he will play again in the 2018-19 NBA season. After stressing that he "can't say right now" if there's a chance Fultz will be reactivated by the Philadelphia 76ers, Brand said he hopes to have an update on the situation in "a few weeks" from now.

Due to a shoulder injury that affected his once-accurate shooting stroke, Fultz was limited to just 14 regular season games in his rookie campaign, as he averaged just 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in the 2017-18 season. While he kicked off the current season as the Sixers' starting shooting guard, questions about his shooting form remained as he ultimately lost his spot in the starting lineup when Philadelphia traded for Minnesota Timberwolves wingman Jimmy Butler. In 19 games this season, Fultz has averaged 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 22.5 minutes per game.

Prior to Elton Brand's comments about not being sure whether Markelle Fultz could play again this season, there were several trade rumors that swirled around the struggling guard, including reports that suggested a number of teams, including the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic, are interested in acquiring him. However, the Philadelphia 76ers have yet to fully subscribe to the idea of trading their onetime prized draftee, as noted by Keith Pompey in a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

Citing a league source, Pompey wrote that the Sixers have no plans of trading Fultz unless they can get a potentially high first-round pick in return, but added that the team might have to "settle for less" in the weeks leading up to the February trade deadline, as many NBA teams have expressed concern over Fultz's injuries and shooting woes.