- Former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz has been traded by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Orlando Magic.
- Fultz never met expectations in Philadelphia, his time with the team a bizarre saga defined by what appeared to be the worst case of the "yips" in NBA history.
- In Orlando, Fultz will get a fresh start free from the pressures that Philadelphia placed on him.
The Markelle Fultz era has come to an end in Philadelphia, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Fultz was traded at the deadline to the Orlando Magic, the 76ers getting forward Jonathan Simmons, a first-round pick (via Oklahoma City), and a second-round pick in exchange for the former No. 1 overall pick out of Washington.
For the Sixers, the move is the end of a bizarre saga that loomed over Fultz since he joined the team.
Philadelphia traded with the Celtics to move up from the third overall pick and take Fultz first in 2017 — a move that in many ways signaled the end of the Sixers "Trust the Process" mantra, with the team shifting towards moves in favor of winning in the present tense.
Coming out of college, Fultz looked like a can’t-miss prospect — a free-flowing player with an effortless handle, ability to find space, and pick-and-roll chops to partner with Joel Embiid and trust his shot from the perimeter.
Things, almost immediately went haywire.
Fultz, for lack of a better term, lost his shot, leaving him looking bewildered on the court in desperate search of a jumper that once looked second-nature to his skill set.
Fultz left the rotation to deal with what was chalked up to a shoulder injury, missing most of his rookie year, before returning to the team for the final stretch of the season. In those few games with the Sixers, he showed flashes of the player many expected him to be, providing a spark off the bench and becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double.Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Entering the 2018-19 season, expectations were high — if Fultz could shake off his yips and start playing like a top overall draft pick, the Sixers could be considered favorites in the East. But Fultz, if anything, had taken steps backwards, breaking out a bizarre foul shot that only left viewers more curious as to what was going on in his head.
After the Sixers traded for Jimmy Butler, it was widely expected that Fultz’s time in Philadelphia had likely soured. In November, he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which his camp said explained his bizarre shooting form. The 3-to-6-week timeline for another check-in on Fultz was never met, and he hasn’t played since. Now he’ll be getting a fresh start to his NBA career with the Orlando Magic.
While ultimately extremely disappointing for the Sixers, this trade seems to be a pretty good deal for all parties involved.
The Magic get a former top overall pick and can offer Fultz an environment to develop far away from the great expectations and pressures that came with being the culmination of a years-long quest for the number one pick in Philadelphia.
The Sixers at least recover some sunk cost from a brutally disappointing episode, and most importantly can move on from the conversation surrounding Fultz in favor of pursuing a title this season.
And Fultz moves far away from the spotlight that was stuck on him in Philadelphia, and develop into whatever pro he’ll wind up being for the Magic, whether that be a generational guard, a satisfying role player, a bust out of the league, or anything in between.
It’s been a long journey for Fultz and the Sixers, and while it didn’t end how either party expected, both seems to be looking toward brighter chapters in the near future.
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Source: Business Insider