Friday night the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-112. The loss against the Cavaliers dropped the Philadelphia 76ers to 13-8 on the season. Friday night's loss marked the team's first loss of the season at home.
Despite a slow start, the Sixers have managed to turn it around. Almost two weeks ago the franchise acquired Jimmy Butler in a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to the Athletic's Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski, the Timberwolves sent Butler and Justin Patton to the 76ers in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and a 2022 second-round pick.
Philadelphia 76ers: Monthly Review
Philadelphia is 4-2 with Butler in the rotation. Even with a 13-8 record and the team gelling together, it seems like Sixers guard Markelle Fultz is the center of attention. Saturday, Keith Pompey from the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “Fultz is no longer in the Sixers' long-term plans.”
Fultz was selected number one overall by the 76ers in last year's NBA draft (2017). After being drafted it seemed as if he was the perfect fit for the Sixers. Unfortunately, the Sixers' guard would only get to showcase his full skill set in summer league.
No one knows the true story when it comes to Fultz's mysterious shoulder injury. However, his form looked different in a team practice and during a game in late October last season. He would only play 14 games in the 2017-18 season.
Tuesday, multiple sources including The Athletic's David Aldridge reported that Fultz will sit out until he receives further evaluation on his shoulder (per the advice of his brothers). After the news broke, there were rumors swirling around that the second year guard wanted a trade.
However, the trade rumors were denied by Fultz's agent, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. But after today's news a trade is possible and there are five trade locations that could work for Fultz.
5. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns would be a great fit for the 20-year-old guard for a few reasons. Obviously, the Suns can use all the help they can get at the point guard position.
Currently, the Suns have Elie Okobo, De'Anthony Melton, and Isaiah Canaan as the active point guards on their roster. No disrespect to the young talent on Phoenix's roster, but that is not enough to help Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.
Needless to say, the Suns are probably two pieces away from turning the franchise around. In order for this team to turn it around, they have to have a solid point guard at the helm. At the moment Fultz is averaging 8.2 points per game which is more than Okobo (6.0), Melton (2.5), and Canaan (8.1).
Fultz being traded to the Suns would allow him to ease into being a starting guard without the pressure to win now. Also, the fact that Ben Simmons is the primary ball handler is affecting the 20-year-old's game. Not to mention that Simmons' inability to shoot puts more pressure on Fultz.
Fans, critics, and analysts roasted Simmons all summer about his lack of shooting. With the Philadelphia 76ers continuing to trade away shooters it makes it difficult for Simmons and Fultz to coexist. But there can only be one primary ball handler who can't shoot.
Playing in Phoenix would help the 6-foot-4 guard nurse his shoulder, gain confidence in his shot, and develop without constant pressure. Adding him to a backcourt with Booker could be lethal. Fultz also compliments Booker's game and would not overshadow him.
4. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans are currently 10-10 on the season. Anthony Davis is continuing to put this team on his back. Davis will be a free agent in 2021, so the Pelicans need to do anything they can in order to keep their franchise player around for another four or five years.
Trading for Fultz may not result in an immediate win as far as points per game, but the 2017 number one overall pick has the ability to attack the rim, rebound, and get his teammates involved. Playing side by side with Jrue Holiday and Davis would help elevate his game along with theirs.
Last season, Holiday played lights out after he was pushed to shooting guard due to the addition of Rajon Rondo. Holiday averaged 19 points, six assists, and 4.5 rebounds. When the nine-year veteran plays off the ball he is forced to become a second scoring option.
During his first few years in New Orleans, he struggled to find his role and remain healthy. When healthy, he is consistent and an excellent playmaker. Playing with Fultz in the backcourt could be beneficial for both guards. Both players have dealt with confidence issues.
Similar to Phoenix a trade to NOLA will help the 76ers guard relax. Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry is also somewhat of an offensive genius and can help Fultz adjust through the growing pains. With the right offense, he can avoid becoming a bust and prove the doubters wrong.
3. San Antonio Spurs
Welcome to the Alamo, Mr. Fultz. Realistically, as long as the San Antonio Spurs have head coach Greg Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford anything is possible. Popovich is one of the greatest head coaches of all time. A lot of basketball fans take his basketball mind for granted.
If Fultz ended up in San Antonio, his career would definitely change for the better. Popovich is a players coach who demands excellence but connects with his players on a different level. Of course, he will still pull any player on his roster and chew them out if a screen is not set correctly or their effort is lacking.
Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown is doing a great job with the 76ers. But there is a possibility that he may have mishandled the whole Fultz situation. During last years playoffs, the Washington product rode the bench despite being “healthy.”
Sitting out of last years playoffs probably affected the 6-foot-4 guard mentally. Under Popovich, he would learn how to play through adversity. Earlier in the season, Dejounte Murray tore his ACL which ended his 2018-19 season. The Spurs are going to need another guard.
Buford needs to consider this trade for the immediate and distant future. It will be a while before Murray returns to the lineup. Once he returns either he or Fultz can come off the bench.
2. Utah Jazz
Friday night the Utah Jazz lost 90-83 to the Los Angeles Lakers on the road. Sadly, the Jazz lost Donovan Mitchell, who bruised his ribs in the second quarter. Nonetheless, Utah head coach Quin Snyder still had his team fighting until the final whistle.
Utah is a solid fit for Fultz because of their current point guard situation in Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum. Clearly, the Jazz are not going to attract any big name free agents (hence why Gordon Hayward left). The Jazz' best bet to acquire talent is through the draft and by trade.
Fultz can help this team with athleticism and by adding youth. Rubio is a solid pass first-point guard, but his lack of aggression and three-point shooting hinders his game. The 28-year-old guard is averaging 12.1 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.2 rebounds.
On the other hand, Fultz is only 20 years old and is averaging 8.2 points with a broken jump shot. As of now, Rubio is only averaging 3.9 more points than Fultz, which is problematic. Synder is a solid developmental coach and can help Fultz take the next step in his game.
Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey needs to add speed, athleticism, and playmaking to his roster by any means necessary. The fact that Fultz is only 20 years old is something to take advantage of. It's important not to forget that he was selected number one overall in last years draft.
1. Orlando Magic
Maybe the Magic can help restore what the 76ers saw in Fultz prior to the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Magic are coming off of a 112-87 loss to the Denver Nuggets. This summer the team re-signed Aaron Gordon to a four-year, $88 million contract.
Re-signing Gordon was a solid move by the organization. Similar to the Jazz, this franchise struggles to attract big name free agents. Trading for Fultz could help this franchise obtain a solid point-guard that can improve the team in the immediate and distant future.
The Orlando Magic need to replenish their depleted backcourt. The team only has two point guards on the roster in D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant. The Magic's front office needs to add other players to pair with Gordon.
Coming to Orlando could hurt or advance Fultz's confidence. If acquired by the Magic, there will be some high expectations for the young guard.
After a year and some change, Philadelphia may be ready to move on from their 2017 number one overall pick. Of course, there is no set trade in place. But it's safe to say that Fultz has a decent chance to be traded before the deadline.