Guard T.J. McConnell is all the more important to the Philadelphia 76ers' championship hopes with Markelle Fultz's future in question, and the team is reportedly not interested in trading the former as a result.
On Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported Philadelphia is no longer even listening to trade offers for McConnell despite the fact that he can become a free agent following the 2018-19 season. Wojnarowski called it a "reflection of the fact that the organization knows it'll be leaning more heavily on [McConnell] now."
This comes after Wojnarowski reported there won't "be a resolution on [the] next steps" with Fultz until he sees specialists for his shoulder multiple times this week.
Fultz has not lived up to expectations since the 76ers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and Wojnarowski noted he "has lost the ability to carry out and follow through on long jump shots, and there's been internal and external debate about how much of this perplexing circumstance is physical vs. mental."
The Washington product played a mere 14 games as a rookie and attempted one three-pointer as shoulder issues appeared to negatively impact and alter his shot. He has attempted 14 triples through his 19 appearances this season, although he has hit just 28.6 percent of them.
According to David Aldridge of The Athletic, Fultz's attorney, Raymond Brothers, told the 76ers last week that the guard won't even practice, let alone play in games, until after he sees a specialist. He last saw game action Nov. 19 against the Phoenix Suns.
Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report noted general manager Elton Brand was surprised by this news, while head coach Brett Brown called it the first "red flag" development with Fultz, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Despite the developments, Wojnarowski added Philadelphia expects Fultz to return to the team during the 2018-19 campaign.
As for McConnell, he has struggled through his 16 appearances this season and is averaging just 3.9 points and 2.4 assists a night. What's more, his net rating of minus-9.7 is the worst mark on the team.
Still, he is a necessary part of the rotation with Fultz out, even if the 76ers still have Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler to carry much of the weight on both ends. They will need supporting pieces to help them compete with the best the Eastern Conference has to offer as they look to challenge for seeding and an eventual deep run in the postseason.