Philly, we have an update.
After back-and-forth reports by Markelle Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, on Tuesday that Fultz had his shoulder drained, and then that he actually totally didn’t and instead had a cortisone shot, GM Bryan Colangelo spoke on the matter in a press conference Wednesday morning.
“The notion that there’s anything structurally wrong or long-term in concern is clearly not the case,” Colangelo said. “Nothing is wrong with Markelle Fultz.”
The Sixers did announce that Fultz would be out for at least the next three games due to “right shoulder soreness,” providing a loose explanation for Fultz’s recent shooting struggles both from outside the paint and at the free throw line.
Multiple times in the press conference, Colangelo suggested that Fultz changing his shooting motion in between the summer and the start of the season, a change Fultz himself confirmed, may have contributed to the shoulder injury. This was, apparently, a decision made by Fultz—Colangelo said there was never, at any point, an effort by the Sixers to get Fultz to change his shooting motion.
“It’s become very obvious he just hasn’t been willing or committed to shooting outside of the paint. We’re trying to work on that. ... It’s generally not normal for a guy to average 24 points a game in college and shoot over 40 percent from 3 and then change mechanics,” Colangelo said. “He really didn’t systematically go and change it, he might have tried to tweak some things. The fact of the matter is there is right now some irritation in the shoulder caused by the inflammation, and he’s not shooting it naturally.”
"I think it’s appropriate to take a step back, let him take a breath & get him healthy & ready to resume play hopefully next wk.”-Colangelo— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoNBCS) October 25, 2017
Colangelo confirmed that Brothers’s initial report to ESPN of Fultz’s shoulder being drained was wrong, and said he and Brothers were “aligned” despite also saying he didn’t know what prompted Brothers’s comments. Colangelo also said the Sixers did not report Fultz’s cortisone shot originally because they “don’t necessarily report every single thing we do medically to players.”
Fultz’s shot—or lack thereof—has become a central topic of conversation early in the season, as there were questions about what was causing Fultz’s shooting motion change, and if there was any injury behind it. Fultz, who had the scrutiny of a no. 1 pick compounded by this strange start, was not done any favors by the Sixers’ silence on the matter, inaction that also brought criticism of the franchise for playing him when it was evident something wasn’t right.
Markelle Fultz’s free-throw struggles continue... pic.twitter.com/S1D5N307Uk— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) October 22, 2017
On Wednesday, Colangelo sought to clear the air at last, saying that the Sixers never had a medical reason not to play Fultz. He was always cleared to play, even if it was clear to anyone who was watching that Fultz lacked the shot and the confidence that once made him such a highly touted prospect.
It doesn’t seem like all is solved, either. Colangelo said Fultz saw a shoulder specialist who deals with baseball players, and had multiple tests run on his shoulder. “We’re going to continue to see if there’s anything we can come up with,” Colangelo said. “No one is panicking inside, the sky is not falling.”