The hierarchy of the Sixers’ roster has them in a position that makes them the envy for the vast majority of franchises across the association. They have one of the best players in the league (Joel Embiid) locked up for the next four years and an emerging star (Ben Simmons) playing on his rookie deal for a couple more. They just picked up another All-Star (Jimmy Butler) for an inexpensive haul and are likely to retain him for the long-term when his contract expires this summer. They also might have the opportunity to add another max player to put alongside all of these pieces next summer, depending on where the salary cap lands.
It’s certainly not a challenging time for the franchise, yet it’s hard not to think about where the club might be right now if they were getting close to anything out of the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. Former Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo gave up a likely lottery selection (the Kings pick) along with the No. 3 overall pick (which turned into Jayson Tatum) to land the formerly prized point guard in Markelle Fultz and it remains to be seen whether the 20-year-old will play another game in Philadelphia after suiting up for just 33 contests over the past two seasons.
The 6-foot-4 hybrid guard is back on the hunt for shoulder specialists, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, after falling out of the Sixers rotation in wake of the Butler deal. The lingering shoulder issue came as a surprise to new Sixers general manager Elton Brand who has been publicly supportive of his player amid rumors that the guard wants out of Philadelphia after a tumultuous two years riddled with intense media scrutiny on his mysterious shot form and injury issues
The Sixers remained patient with the former top prospect last year, giving him ample time to try to regain his confidence and health while competing at the top of the Eastern Conference. Little changed for Fultz though when he went through an extended recovery process as his hesitancy to shoot a jumper and overall ineffectiveness (26 percent from 3-point range, 53 percent from free throw line) has continued in his sophomore season, resulting in T.J. McConnell getting his minutes right before more shoulder pain cropped up yet again.
While there’s no guarantee a trade happens in the next couple of months, it’s fair to assume that Fultz’s tenure in Philadelphia won’t last beyond next season. There is too much baggage on for both sides now to see a reconciliation, especially with the Sixers’ desire to win now. The more intriguing question now to watch is just how exactly the Sixers handle the situation and what the trade market looks like for the young guard for both now and the future. BostonSportsJournal.com spoke with front office personnel in both conferences to get a better sense of what awaits the Sixers if they try to pull a trigger on a deal now or wait until Fultz can regain some value.