Markelle Fultz had a nightmare rookie season for the Philadelhia 76ers and now that GM Bryan Colangelo is out of the way, the Sixers organization appears to have no interest in rehabbing Fultz for the long term.
If the Pacers are willing to take a chance, they could be the perfect spot to help Fultz find his game and blossom into a valuable player once again.
Risky? Of course. But buying low on Fultz could deliver a talent infusion the Pacers need for the future at best or at least a solid rotation player going forward.
The fact the Sixers aren’t all in on Fultz was apparent when they quickly pinned the trade with Boston and drafting of Fultz on Colangelo, as a move without much support internally. Then today after coach Brett Brown and others made an apparent good-will visit to check on Fultz working out in Los Angeles, Keith Pompey reports sources confirming earlier reports that Fultz’s shooting woes were mental rather than due to a shoulder injury.
Fultz is trying to regain the shooting form that made him the unanimous first-overall draft pick in 2017.
Brown wants him play in summer league because he played in only 17 games this season. Fultz played in the first four regular-season games before being sidelined for the next 68 with what the team called a right-shoulder injury. However, his shooting woes were actually mental, according to several sources. After showing some improvement in his shot, Fultz returned in time for the final 10 games of the season.
So not only have the Sixers made their lack of support for Fultz known, they are now actively continuing to diminish what value the former No. 1 pick may hold. Colangelo certainly wasn’t popular among the Sixers faithful, which was obvious by the Twitter deep dive done to force his resignation. Tying Fultz to Colangelo should assure the 700 Level-ers will make their presence felt whenever Fultz plays poorly.
What doesn’t make sense is why the Sixers aren’t trying to move Fultz while there are still teams looking at where they had him on their draft board last season. Instead they are shredding his value for what? To hope he develops and earns a second contract with the team? That best-case scenario may end up being a problem for Philly with all of the young players the Sixers already have heading toward a legit big pay day.
Worse, if the Sixers continue to drop the ball on developing Fultz, his value will sink even further by the trade deadline, let alone next summer. Then what will they have to show for him?
Thus, I have a solution for Philly and a chance that would be worth taking for the Pacers.
Deal Al Jefferson and the No. 23 pick fo Fultz.
I’m always a fan of buying low on talent and after just one year, the Sixers may feel this is too low. It is certainly way too early to give up on Fultz, but in their lust to move past the Colangelo mess, the Sixers sure seem like they’d rather move on from the former GM’s signature move. The sooner they do so the better for both parties.
The Pacers have a perfect situation to straighten out Fultz’s NBA path. Consider that both Fultz and Victor Oladipo went to DeMatha High School, the legendary hoops school in the DMV. Vic not only provides a mentor Fultz can trust but he will also bathe the young fella in the feathery lifestyle that transformed the Pacers lockerroom last season.
The Pacers have to look beyond Darren Collison and Corey Joseph for their future backcourt options and Fultz could fill that need. However, next year both vets would not only be helpful resources for Fultz, but also remove any pressure of bloated exectations since the team’s success won’t rely on Fultz, who turned 20 in late May, producing right away.
Combine that welcoming environment to develop with Dan Burke getting to work on using Fultz’s size (6’4) and wingspan (6’10) to turn him into a valuable defensive asset and the Pacers have a perfect situation to salvage Fultz’s NBA game.
Oh, and the Sixers would be lucky to have Al Jefferson around their young squad next year. His impact on the Pacers was quite positive this year and giving Joel Embiid Al Jeff’s veteran voice of guidance would be helpful whether the young big man realizes it or not.
Playing reserve minutes in the final ten games of the regular season, Fultz averaged 7.6 points, 4.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds. While he didn’t shoot the ball well, he did show a Lance-esque ability to get in the lane and make things happen. Like Lance at 19, Fultz showed flashes of electric play, but a game that needed to mature drastically.
The Pacers offer the perfect spot to make that happen.