The Sixers’ front office is divided over whether to trade Markelle Fultz and would expect a quality first-rounder in return if he does get moved, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Fultz, currently sidelined while dealing with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome, has improved his numbers slightly after a disappointing rookie season. He is averaging 8.2 PPG in 19 games, 15 of them starts, but continues to struggle with his shot, hitting just .419 from the field and .286 from 3-point range.
The Sixers entered win-now mode after the Jimmy Butler trade, Pompey notes, and don’t need the distraction of trying to develop a young player. However, they are wary of seeing him turn into a star somewhere else, knowing that former GM Bryan Colangelo will get the blame if Fultz fails in Philadelphia, but the current group will be held responsible if he is traded away cheaply.
The Sixers have already refused several offers for Fultz, which indicates that other teams aren’t willing to part with potentially high first-round picks. Pompey states that rival organizations believe Philadelphia will lessen its requirements as the Feb. 7 trade deadline draws nearer, adding that teams remain unconvinced that Fultz will overcome his shooting problems or shoulder injury any time soon.
Fultz hasn’t played since Nov. 19 and is working out in Los Angeles while rehabbing the shoulder. His agent, Raymond Brothers, said on Dec. 4 that Fultz would miss three to six weeks, which could put his return as late as mid-January.
Pompey speculates only a few teams — possibly as many as 10 — might take a chance on Fultz. He lists the Pistons, Magic and Heat as potential landing spots, stating that a league source confirmed Detroit was among three teams that reached out to the Sixers. Whoever winds up with Fultz will be committed to playing him $9.7M next season and will have to make a decision on his fourth-year option in October.
By: Arthur Hill