Elton Brand Says Markelle Fultz's Health Is 76ers' Priority

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 19: Markelle Fultz #20 of the Philadelphia 76ers watches the game from the bench in the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center on November 19, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Suns 119-114. 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

As the never-ending drama surrounding 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz continues this week, the Philadelphia 76ers are focused on getting the second-year guard back to 100 percent.

"Our sole focus with Markelle right now is his health," Philadelphia general manager Elton Brand told The Athletic's Michael Lee on Wednesday. "We hope to know more in the coming days, but the priority is helping him. Anything else you may see or hear out there is just noise."

The Athletic's David Aldridge reported last week that Fultz will not participate in any practices or games as he sees a specialist for his shoulder injury. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Fultz met with a specialist on Monday and was expected to have another appointment later in the week.

Sixers coach Brett Brown called the development "red-flag-type news," per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia InquirerBrand, on the other hand, made sure to avoid speculating on the situation initially, per Philly sports anchor Dave Uram:

Dave Uram @MrUram

I asked #Sixers GM Elton Brand if he found the timing of these Markelle Fultz developments odd https://t.co/YJUsCM13zq

The Athletic's Jared Weiss, Derek Bodner and Sam Amick later reported that Fultz has been playing through a wrist injury and "would prefer a fresh start with a new team."

But as Brand noted Wednesday, the Sixers are more focused on Fultz's health than any potential trade. As for the players, Philadelphia star Jimmy Butler, per Uram, made it clear that the team has the point guard's back:

Dave Uram @MrUram

Jimmy Butler’s thoughts on Markelle Fultz #Sixers https://t.co/velygrdsTh

After his shoulder injury limited him to just 14 games as a rookie last season, Fultz has shown slight improvements after spending the summer working on his shot. The 20-year-old is averaging 8.2 points on 41.9 percent shooting in 19 games this season. However, his free-throw form remains a major work in progress, as he is shooting just 56.8 percent from the line this season.

As Wojnarowski noted, Philadelphia appears to be using T.J. McConnell as the primary backup point guard.