NBA Rumors: Markelle Fultz ‘Unlikely’ To Play This Year, Magic Coach Says

Markelle Fultz, then of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Mitchell Leff / Getty Images

Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has had quite an eventful career, even though he’s spent more time off the court than on it.

Fultz, a then-19-year-old point guard out of Washington, was the consensus top pick in what was seen as a very strong draft. Shortly before the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers made a trade with the Boston Celtics to move up from the third pick to the first, and selected Fultz in order to add him to their young core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

When Fultz showed up for his rookie season, per a timeline compiled by The Ringer, he had mysteriously altered his shot, and not for the better. Fultz was soon diagnosed with a shoulder injury called “scapular muscle imbalance” that led to him sitting out indefinitely, before he finally returned near the end of the season.

Fultz was on the court at the start of this season, but he again had trouble shooting, and shortly after, the team traded for veteran Jimmy Butler. Fultz’s agent announced that the player would be out indefinitely while he had his shoulder examined. He was eventually diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).

Shortly thereafter, the Sixers traded him to the Orlando Magic, at the trade deadline, for guard Jonathon Simmons and a pair of draft picks.

Fultz has not yet played for the Magic, and coach Steve Clifford said Tuesday that he probably won’t this year.

“I don’t think so,” Clifford said, while appearing on Sirius XM NBA Radio. “He’s still rehabbing his shoulder, and he’s not even able to do much on the floor yet. He has a pretty significant shoulder injury, and I would say he’s starting to do a little bit, but I would say it would be very difficult for him to get back this year.”

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In addition to the Sixers being unable to wait for Fultz, the Sixers traded him in order to free up cap space this coming offseason, and also because the team is planning to contend in the playoffs this year.

While the Magic, with their 30-35 record, are currently in the eighth position in the Eastern Conference, which would put them in the postseason if the playoffs began today, they have a young roster and their window has a chance to line up with when Fultz is healthy.

The Sixers, with a 40-23 record, are currently in fourth playoff position in the East.