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Sixers’ Markelle Fultz to see specialists as next step remains unclear

Fultz has already missed three regular-season games this season, and 71 since being drafted first overall in 2017, with "shoulder" issues.

Sixers guards Jimmy Butler (left) and Markelle Fultz.
Sixers guards Jimmy Butler (left) and Markelle Fultz.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

At first, Markelle Fultz was scheduled to see a shoulder specialist Monday in New York.

It turns out the 76ers guard will see several specialists there in the early part of the week. So there won't be a decision on his next step at least until later in the week.

Fultz's agent and lawyer, Raymond Brothers, informed the Sixers last week that Fultz, who had played 19 games this season with 15 starts, would not practice or play until he saw a shoulder specialist. On Wednesday, The Athletic reported that Fultz is dealing with a right wrist injury in addition to the shoulder ailment. According to that report, sources also said Fultz would prefer a fresh start with another team. Later, Brothers denied the report.

Some sources have said that, despite the team's statements, Fultz is no longer in the Sixers' long-term plans and the team is no longer using his shoulder as an excuse for his performances.

Over much of the last year — perhaps as a way to protect the former No. 1 pick — everyone involved went along with the idea that a shoulder injury was the cause of Fultz's shooting woes. The Sixers sent Fultz to several prominent doctors, but none of them found anything to prevent him from missing shots. Sources have long said that Fultz's shooting woes were mental, that he had the yips and the shoulder injury was not a factor.

Still, the Sixers maintained that Fultz's poor shooting was the result of his shoulder woes at first, and later a scapular muscle imbalance. Perhaps they were protecting Fultz from the scrutiny they thought he would receive from having a mental block. Maybe they were protecting themselves from the scrutiny they would receive from trading up two spots and surrendering a future first-round pick for Fultz.

Or it could have been for both reasons.

Fultz was sidelined 68 games last season and has missed three games this season. He's averaging 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists while shooting just 28.6 percent on three-pointers this season.

Some sources believe the doctors' appointments may lead to his being shut down for a period of time. But we'll find out more later in the week.