Markelle Fultz

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Redick, Ntilikina, Nets

First overall pick Markelle Fultz missed 68 games due to injury and at one point, it seemed that his entire rookie year would be lost to a phantom shoulder ailment. Instead, Fultz has returned and given a spark to the Sixers the last seven games.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays that Fultz was “hurt” with the situation because he was not able to play.

“It wasn’t anything about expectations or anything,” Fultz said. “I just felt like something I loved doing I couldn’t do anymore, and it hurt for a little while.”

The 19-year-old has now appeared in 11 games this season and posted modest numbers of 6.8 PPG and 3.4 APG. However, simply being part of the team — which sits in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 49-30 record — has Fultz excited for the remainder of the regular season and beyond.

“I feel like I can help them hopefully by picking up the energy and, when they come out and feel down, just picking them up,” Fultz said. “And for me, when I’m not feeling good, they are doing the same thing for me.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • In a separate story, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that having a healthy Fultz play alongside Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons presents an interesting lineup scenario for the Sixers. While the duo has shared the backcourt for small increments since Fultz’s return, coach Brett Brown has liked what he has seen in a small sample.
  • J.J. Redick has been part of playoff teams every season in his career but now his focus is on winning a championship, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The Sixers are in third place and Redick thinks the team is good enough to go far in the postseason. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on our team this year,” Redic said.  “I think this group has the potential to win the Eastern Conference. Whether that’s this year or three years from now, having guys like Ben [Simmons] and Jo [Embiid], you have a chance. Those guys are that good.”
  • Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina has gained eight pounds over the course of the season and it has reflected well in his play, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.
  • Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that Nets coach Kenny Atkinson sees the Sixers rebuilding model as a point of reference for the Nets. In the lengthy read, Scotto breaks down Atkinson’s view of Philadelphia and how Brooklyn views some of its young players as de facto lottery picks.

Atlantic Notes: Lin, Fultz, Mudiay

Sidelined Nets point guard Jeremy Lin has been making progress in his recovery from a knee injury suffered in the first game of the season. Head coach Kenny Atkinson recently told Bryan Fonseca of Nets Daily that the 29-year-old is thrilled to be where he is at this point.

While Lin has been rehabbing his ruptured patella tendon in British Columbia, he’s been in touch with the Nets bench boss, a connection he’s had since his first taste of consistent NBA action with the Knicks back in 2011 (Atkinson was an assistant coach there from 2008-2012).

He’s so involved. He’s not just sitting there doing his own thing,” Atkinson said of Lin back in February. “He’s always hitting me with stuff after the game; ‘you could’ve done this, you could’ve done that’, it’s great. And I know [the Nets] medical team is all over him. He’s in a really good place, he’s happy with how he’s progressing.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers are happy that Markelle Fultz has regained his shooting form but another area where he could have an impact for the team is on defense, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “He’s better than I thought,” head coach Brett Brown said. “He’s got an amazing basketball body. His hips are somewhere near my shoulders. He uncoils and he’s 7-foot-6; he’s got size-15 feet. He just is long.
  • The Knicks opted to bring Emmanuel Mudiay off the bench in favor of Trey Burke this week and the move is already paying dividends, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes.
  • After his exit from Los Angeles, D’Angelo Russell has fit right in as a member of the Nets. It doesn’t hurt that he’s appreciating the city as well, Tom Dowd of the team’s official site writes. “It’s cool,” said Russell of Brooklyn. “It’s different. The whole culture is different. I feel like there’s a lot of different crowds out here. You can fit in wherever you want to fit in. It’s great.

Community Shootaround: Markelle Fultz’s Return

After months of uncertainty about his status, Markelle Fultz returned to action for the Sixers on Monday night, with head coach Brett Brown making the surprise announcement just a couple hours before opening tip. Fultz’s night got off to a shaky start when he committed a quick turnover and air-balled his first jump shot, but he finished with 10 points and eight assists in just 14 minutes, contributing a few clips to the game’s highlight reel.

It was a long road back for Fultz, who appeared in just four games at the start of the regular season before being shut down due to shoulder issues — and to rebuild his jumper. For a time, it looked like the Sixers may just keep Fultz on the shelf for the rest of the season, playing it safe as they’d done in past seasons with key players like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

However, after last year’s No. 1 overall pick visited the University of Washington during last month’s All-Star break, he returned to Philadelphia focused on getting back on the court this season, according to Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports. When he told Brown before Monday’s game that he was ready to go, the 76ers head coach was thrilled to get him back in the lineup and was a little emotional when he made the announcement, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details.

Fultz’s return is exactly what was needed not just for Fultz himself but for team president Bryan Colangelo, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. As Deveney outlines, a segment of Sixers fans attribute the team’s current success solely to former GM Sam Hinkie, rather than assigning any credit to Colangelo. Considering last summer’s trade for Fultz was the biggest risk Colangelo has taken during his tenure in Philadelphia, he had a lot hinging on the point guard’s recovery. Monday night’s performance in Denver looked like a solid first step toward that move paying off.

Still, with the Sixers set to open the postseason in less than three weeks, it remains to be seen whether they can count on Fultz to play a major role during those playoff games. Philadelphia’s roster is somewhat short on playmakers, so in the view of David Murphy of Philly.com, Fultz is someone who can help. But the extent of the rookie’s role down the stretch remains a question mark.

What do you think? Is it a risk to count on Fultz in the postseason? Will he hold his own as Simmons’ backup at the point? Will he be ready to take on an even larger role by the time the playoffs begin? How has his unusual rookie season affected your view of his long-term potential?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Markelle Fultz To Be Active For Monday’s Game

Sixers point guard and 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz will be available off the bench tonight, head coach Brett Brown told reporters, including Gina Mizell of the Denver Post (Twitter link).

Fultz, 19, is available to play for the first time since October 23, missing 68 games in that span.

“He’s put in a lot of work,” Brown said, per Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I’m thrilled to be able to offer him the opportunity to come join his teammates at this exciting time of the year.”

Fultz will not have a specific minutes restriction, but the team will monitor his play and the situation of the game, tweets ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

Fultz’s first NBA season has been hampered by injury and shrouded in mystery. Just four games into the year, the No. 1 pick was sidelined with a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder. The ailment forced Fultz to alter his shooting motion, which was causing him discomfort.

In those four games, Fultz posted averages of 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.8 APG.

At the time of injury, Fultz was shooting just 33% from the field and did not attempt a single three-pointer. That was out of character for the young guard, whose field goal percentage (47.6%) and three-point shooting (41.3%) was solid as a freshman at Washington.

The Sixers issued a statement in early December that Fultz’s shoulder injury had healed and he was not in pain. However, confusion about his status lingered as he did not play and multiple videos of him shooting showed a hitch in his release.

Fultz will back up Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons at point guard.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Lowry, Irving, Celtics

Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz will have the final say in whether he plays again this season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The first overall pick in last year’s draft has been limited to four games because of a shoulder injury and difficulties with his jumper. He sat out his 68th straight game tonight, but his shot has looked better in pre-game warmups and there is speculation that he might see some action before the playoffs.

“It’s just something that when Markelle Fultz feels like he can go, like he really feels good about himself and his health, the shoulder, everything,” coach Brett Brown said before tonight’s game. “… He knows he’s got a coaching staff and a team that will welcome him in when he says go.” 

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is still playing at a high level at age 32 and believes he has a lot of years left in the NBA, relays Josh Lewenburg of TSN. Lowry, who talks about staying in the league until age 40, says he is inspired by some of the league’s elder statesmen. “[LeBron James] is kinda setting the trend to show that it ain’t the olden times,” Lowry said. “You know, guys at 32 [or] 33, [it used to be] like ‘Oh, they’re done’. But I think those days are over. … We all know our bodies, our diets, we’ve got nutritionists, chefs, trainers. It’s a little bit of a different game and [with new] technology I think guys will be able to play at a higher level at 35 or 36 years old.” Lowry will be 34 when his current contract expires in 2020.
  • Even though Kyrie Irving is expected to miss the first part of the playoffs, there’s a silver lining for the Celtics regarding today’s surgical procedure on his knee, writes Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated. The operation showed the patella fracture he suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals is fully healed and the knee is structurally sound. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has a long-term plan to build around Irving and Gordon Hayward, Dollinger adds, and should be relieved that Irving projects to have a healthy future.
  • The Celtics had to alter their plans to sign Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract when he reportedly got a better offer from another team. Boston is targeting perimeter depth with its hardship exception, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Carroll, Russell, Horford, Noah

In an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Murphy writes that the Sixers should play Markelle Fultz this season if and when he is healthy enough to return, even though there is an argument to be made for shutting Fultz down for the remainder of the 2017/18 campaign.

Murphy opines that the Sixers often struggle to find an offensive dimension that allows opportunities for guys to create their own shots, the need for which increases during playoff time as defenses more readily prepare for the opposition. As veteran Ersan Ilyasova put it, “In the playoffs, when you play a seven-game series, you have to execute and kind of always bring something unique, because everybody’s studied each other.”

The Sixers had scored just 251 points on isolation plays this season, the fewest in the NBA, and they also rate poorly in pick-and-roll efficiency, scoring on drives, and getting fouled on drives.

Enter Fultz, who could be the type of player to possibly add this needed dimension to the Sixers’ rotation. “He can make us better,” head coach Brett Brown said. “… Just what he does in open court, what he does with a live ball. I think he can be different from any player that we already have. What I see in practice sometimes, you understand completely why he was the first player chosen in the NBA draft.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In his first season with the Nets, veteran forward DeMarre Carroll has done everything asked of him and more, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Carroll has started at power forward and even played center, all while keeping an upbeat attitude through the team’s rebuilding. “I’m feeling good,” said Carroll. “This is the best I’ve felt in my career. I feel like playing with these young guys is rejuvenating me and making me feel even younger. I’ve just got to keep trying to show these guys by example, rather than doing the talking.”
  • In another article for the New York Post, Lewis reports that Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is finally learning to work on his defense. Always a gifted scorer, Russell will continue to improve defensively as he gets older, bigger, and stronger, per head coach Kenny Atkinson.
  • Current Thunder head coach Billy Donovan still speaks highly of his former player at Florida – Celtics big man Al Horford, reports Taylor Snow of Celtics.com. “What I’ve always respected about (Al) is that it’s always about winning; he’ll do whatever he has to do to win and sacrifice whatever he has to to win.”
  • Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t have much news to report on the Joakim Noah front, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. Asked how the whole situation would resolve, Hornacek punted to general manager Scott Perry and team president Steve Mills.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Hornacek, Rozier, Smart

Markelle Fultz has made progress in fixing his shot, but the Sixers are uncertain if he will play again this season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fultz is looking better in pre-game shootarounds and his release point is almost back to where it was in college and summer league. However, conditioning is a concern for a player who hasn’t appeared in a game since October.

“He understands where the team is at, and he understands where the NBA is pretty tough in March and the race to the playoffs is real,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think whenever the decision comes out, we will act accordingly. I can tell you personally, I do look forward to coaching him.”

Fultz hasn’t been a full participant at practice since he was first injured and has done his work mainly in three-on-three scrimmages with teammates. Brown expects the decision to be made soon, and Fultz will have input on whether he plays or not.

  • Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has been going along with the rebuilding plan in New York, even though it has resulted in a won-loss record that might cost him his job, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Hornacek hasn’t talked to anyone in the front office about his future with the team, but he knows that conversation will happen soon. “At the end of the season I’m sure we’ll sit down with [president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry] and figure out what we’re doing,” he said. “As a coach you’d like to know if you’re going to be here next year. But our job right now is take the guys that we have on this team and try to get them better.”
  • Celtics guard Terry Rozier is hoping Marcus Smart can return in the playoffs and promises to help convince him to stay in Boston this summer, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Smart is expected to miss about six weeks after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and could return for a second-round series. He will be a restricted free agent this summer. “If I’m part of the plan in recruiting Marcus to stay here, then that’s what I’m going to have to do,” Rozier said.
  • In a St. Patrick’s Day column, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines the ways that good luck that has touched the Celtics in recent years. Examples include the emergence of Rozier, the availability of Kyrie Irving and the Hornets’ refusal to accept a parcel of draft picks in exchange for their ninth selection in 2015 when team president Danny Ainge wanted to draft Justise Winslow.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Simmons, Morris, Celtics

Markelle Fultz missed his 64th game of the season on Friday, which means time is running out on the possibility of his return this season. The Sixers‘ first-round pick (first overall) has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury that seems to have inhibited his shooting ability.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown gave his most definitive answer about Fultz’s status for the remainder of the year, saying he is unsure if the young guard will be able to return, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“I truly don’t know,” Brown said. “Here I am telling you that. It’s that whole truth and nothing but the truth. I really don’t know.”

While Fultz is out with a shoulder injury, the specific reason for his absence is to relearn how to shoot. Either way, the Sixers likely will not get a significant contribution out of Fultz until next season at the earliest.

Check out more notes out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers have Ben Simmons listed as both a point guard and power forward and head coach Brett Brown can see a path for the Australian to play at the four exclusively. While Simmons does not mind playing the power forward, he prefers being a point guard, Pompey writes in a separate story. “Nah,” Simmons said. “I don’t want to play the four. I mean I’ll play the four, but I don’t want to be predominantly in the four position. I feel like I can do a lot more from the point-guard position as you’ve seen.”
  • The injury bug has hit the Celtics hard in recently as Daniel TheisMarcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown suffered season-altering injuries. In the wake of those health issues, Marcus Morris is the first Boston player to step up and take advantage of his new spot in the starting lineup, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston relays. Morris scored 31 points on Wednesday vs. Washington.
  • The Celtics are without Theis, Smart, Brown, and Gordon Hayward and it’s possible the team explores adding a player to offset the losses. Per Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter links), if a league doctor feels Brown could miss two more weeks due to his concussion, the Celtics could be granted a 16th roster spot to add another player. However, Boston is optimistic Brown will return soon, which would make the team ineligible for the hardship provision.

Latest On Markelle Fultz

Rumors of Markelle Fultz making his return this coming Friday have begun to circulate, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic (Twitter links) hears from multiple sources that there are no plans in place to have the rookie suit up this week. Bodner adds that the Sixers are encouraged by the point guard’s progress.

By many accounts, Fultz is looking better in practice. He appears to have re-discovered his jump shot, which had looked altered for much of 2017/18.

Still, coach Brett Brown indicates that no decision on whether to bring last year’s No. 1 overall pick back this season has been made, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The franchise may continue to hold Fultz out of action as it jockeys for position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Hayward, Miles, Raptors

Markelle Fultz‘s status remains something of a mystery, with the Sixers only revealing vague details about how close 2017’s first overall pick is to returning to the court. With Philadelphia in the midst of a playoff push, the team may simply wait until next season to try to reintegrate Fultz.

Still, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes, head coach Brett Brown said this week that the Sixers haven’t set a cutoff date for the point guard to either return or sit out the remainder of the season.

“It’s all internal discussions we’re going through right now and just trying to accurately assess his situation,” Brown said before the Sixers took the court on Tuesday. “And we’re discussing that as we speak.”

At this point, Fultz seems more likely than not to be shut down for the season. That would give the Sixers a full offseason – including Summer League and training camp – to prepare the youngster for a regular role.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Brad Stevens definitively stated recently that Gordon Hayward won’t be back on the court this year for the Celtics, despite a series of recovery videos that has fueled speculation about his return. Now, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has weighed in with a similar sentiment. “I don’t believe that Gordon thinks he’s going to play. I don’t think so, no,” Ainge said during an appearance on Toucher & Rich in Boston. “I think that Gordon just wants to show everyone when he comes back next year … all the work that he put in to get back to who he was when he got here. [And attempt to become an] even better player than he was when he got hurt.”
  • Speaking of Hayward’s ankle, Kyrie Irving spoke about how that season-ending injury has impacted his first year with the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston has the details and the quotes from Irving.
  • In an excellent piece for The Toronto Sun, Ryan Wolstat takes an in-depth look at C.J. Miles, who says he joined the Raptors last July because he viewed the club as a perfect fit for his priorities. “My first takes on any situation are: Will I be able to play well, will I fit there, what are they trying to do, are they trying to win? How is the organization? Other guys that played there, did they like it?” Miles said. “That’s what I’m looking at. And it checked off every box.”
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri said last spring that the club required a “culture reset.” The team’s success this season can be attributed in strong part to that reset, writes Curtis Withers of The Canadian Press.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up a few Knicks and Nets notes.