Markelle Fultz is out indefinitely, again.
The second-year guard will be out for approximately six weeks, according to team sources, after concluding outside consultations regarding his shoulder. Physical therapy has been recommended to treat thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS).
The Sixers released an update saying that TOS “involves compression or irritation in the thoracic outlet (area between lower neck and upper chest)."
The six-week timeline is a rough estimate as Fultz’s return to the court will be determined by his comfort level, as well as subsided pain and symptoms.
Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick, has been evaluated by more than 10 specialists across multiple disciplines to address a score of symptoms over the last year in addition to his work with the Sixers medical and training staff according to team sources. This most recent diagnosis of TOS came after his final consultation on Tuesday, and it is the first time this season that not playing has been recommended.
No structural damage or nerve damage was found in any of Fultz’s evaluations and surgery has not been recommended.
On the advice of his agent, Raymond Brothers, Fultz met with specialists over the last week and has not played with the team since Nov. 19 when his backup point guard minutes apparently were given to T.J. McConnell.
On Nov. 21, Brothers informed the Sixers that Fultz would be seeking outside opinions on his shoulder before returning to play. Sixers general manager Elton Brand said at the time that Fultz and Brothers' decision to seek outside consultation was the first indication the team had been given this season that there was anything medically wrong with Fultz.
Until Nov. 21, the Sixers were operating under the assumption that Fultz was healthy. Despite some unconventional shooting motions, Fultz too reiterated that he has been healthy this season following a turbulent year. Fultz missed 68 games in his rookie season after he was diagnosed with a scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder.
He continued to rehab for months after a Dec. 9, 2017, update said the scapular imbalance was completely resolved. He returned to play for the final 10 games of the 2017-18 season.
Brothers told ESPN on Tuesday that any speculation that Fultz’s shooting issues were mental in nature rather than physical were unfounded.
“People were saying it was a mental problem and it is not. There’s no way you’re the No. 1 pick in the world and all of a sudden you aren’t able to consistently raise your arms to shoot,” Brothers said. "Something is physically wrong. Now we have the answer to that problem.”
ESPN also reported that Fultz will begin his physical therapy away from the team in Los Angeles.