With Markelle Fultz‘s status as uncertain as ever, Sixers GM Elton Brand admitted Saturday he’s not sure if the second-year guard will play again this season, writes Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fultz, who hasn’t seen game action since November 19, has been diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. He is doing rehab work away from the team, and there’s no timetable for a possible return.
“He’s in L.A. with Judy Seto, … who Kobe [Bryant] swears by, progressing well,” Brand said. “He’ll be with us on Christmas, with his family. … Our staff, or someone from the organization has been in touch with him daily, or someone in his camp daily.”
Brand added that another update is expected after the holidays as team doctors re-evaluate his condition. The top pick in last year’s draft, Fultz had started 15 of 19 games and was averaging 8.2 PPG before being sidelined by the injury.
There’s more this morning out of Philadelphia:
- Brand has more definite news about this year’s first-rounder, Zhaire Smith, who hasn’t played yet this season, Todd relays in the same story. Smith had surgery on his left foot in August, then had his rehab interrupted by complications from a peanut allergy, but Brand said the organization expects him to be ready before the season ends. “Zhaire is in the gym every morning, early in the morning, sometimes 5 a.m. He’s in good spirits,” Brand said. “He’ll have another test on his foot after the holiday and we expect to see him back this season. Not this year, but this season.” Smith will likely be sent to the Sixers’ G League team in Delaware when he is ready to return.
- Brand expects to make at least one more move to add roster depth before the February 7 trade deadline, Todd adds. Philadelphia gave up some depth when it sent Robert Covington and Dario Saric to Minnesota to acquire Jimmy Butler. Brand agrees with coach Brett Brown that the team could use another perimeter defender. “We’re not a finished product right now,” he stated. We’re going to get better.”
- Since the Butler deal, the Sixers have relied on Joel Embiid to provide more 3-point shooting, but the center wants to make that a smaller part of his offensive game, relays ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “I don’t like shooting 3s,” Embiid said. “I only do it because of the spacing that we have, and sometimes I have to take them.”