Markelle Fultz Has No Soreness from Shoulder Injury; No Timeline for Return

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 25: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers warms up prior to the game against the Orlando Magic at the Wells Fargo Center on November 25, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers rookie Markelle Fultz isn't experiencing soreness in his right shoulder anymore, but the team remains unsure when he'll return to the court.

NBA.com's John Schuhmann shared the Sixers' statement about the 2017 No. 1 overall draft pick, with Philadelphia saying its medical staff will evaluate Fultz again in about three weeks:

John Schuhmann @johnschuhmann

Sixers issue a Markelle Fultz update. He's pain-free, but is still 3 weeks away ... from another evaluation. https://t.co/QK9fIkDTmO

While Saturday's update provided a little good news regarding Fultz, the absence of a definitve timetable for his recovery was a cause for concern.

Even assuming the best-case scenario that Fultz will be healthy enough to play when doctors look at him in three weeks, he will have missed most of the first half of the 2017-18 regular season. So far, he has appeared in 76 minutes over four games.

Given how Fultz's first year in the NBA has unfolded, expecting him to come back by the start of January may be overly optimistic.

The Sixers don't have much reason to rush him back, either. If anything, the team's experiences with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons illustrated the benefits of being cautious with the health of young players.

Simmons missed his entire rookie season, while Embiid didn't play in his first two years. Those setbacks haven't seemed to hurt the on-court development of either player. Simmons is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, while Embiid is averaging 23.5 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.

Should the next update on Fultz also provide little clarity about his possible return, it may not be a bad idea for the Sixers to consider shutting him down.