There’s a lot to parse after Bryan Colangelo’s media availability this morning, but here are some key takeaways from the discussion regarding Markelle Fultz’s shoulder injury:
- Fultz will sit out the next three games and be reevaluated in a week
- there is no structural damage to his shoulder
- Colangelo suggested that Fultz changed his shot on his own sometime in August, which may have been the genesis of the injury
- the team found out about the shoulder in late September or early October, before training camp started
- he said there was “no medical reason” to sit Fultz, and that the rookie wanted to play
- the team did not feel it was necessary to put out a release notifying media that Fultz had an October 5th cortisone shot
Colangelo spoke for about 20 minutes. I’ll pick out some of the more relevant quotes:
Colangelo opening statement: pic.twitter.com/9MEhGCSjeC
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) October 25, 2017
“I thought I would come out and say a few words about Markelle. We’ve announced that he is going to sit out the next three games and be reevaluated in a week. Just wanted to address what’s going on with his shoulder discomfort. There have been a lot of questions about why he’s been playing. I can safely say that through our own medical determination, and with multiple second opinions, that he was cleared and dealing with ongoing discomfort. It was his choice to continue playing through the pain. We are going to try to take a different approach as we embrace this next week and try to get him 100% healthy and right. There’s been a lot of noise out there about the pain, about the impact on his shot and we’re just hopeful we can get this resolved once and for all. We’re extremely confident its a situation that will be resolved and he’ll resume playing at the level we all anticipate and expect from Markelle being the player he is.”
Is there any sign of structural damage?
“No, there’s no structural damage at all. We feel very comfortable with the opinions we’ve had thus far.”
What triggered the change in the approach, resting him now vs. playing? Was it because he wanted to do it?
“We’re doing things together. We’re looking at everything. Like I said, there’s a lot of noise out there. You try to put the player in the best position to succeed. We’re hopeful to accomplish that, take a step back, and just reevaluate the way we’re approaching everything. When you take him out of the spotlight there’s going to be a little less focus on him – every particular play, every shot mechanic. He’s obviously been affected by whatever discomfort he has in his shoulder, but the notion that there’s anything structural wrong or long term in concern is clearly not the case. There’s been a lot of talk, ‘why did they change his shot in the first place?’ There was never a concerted effort on the part of the organization to change his shot. You probably saw in summer league that everything was moving along great. He was scoring and then sprained his ankle. I don’t think that affects your shot mechanics. But we spent some time with him throughout the summer. Sometime in August, I think, he may have worked on his shot a little bit. It could even be the cause of the irritation and inflammation in his shoulder, just the new mechanics. Sometimes it puts your shoulder in a different position. Whatever the case, whichever happened first, he’s dealing with soreness and nothing more. We just want him to get him right and get him back to where he can be.”
How many scans has he had and what’s the timeline here?
“The scans, I believe he’s had a couple of scans, a couple of ultrasounds, and there are multiple tests that we continue to look at and evaluate. The last opinion was yesterday. We feel very good coming out of that, a shoulder expert who has worked with some baseball players. We feel comfortable with the diagnosis and treatment plan we’ve put in place. There was some talk and speculation yesterday about a process or treatment he received over three weeks ago. That was obviously incorrectly communicated from the agent to the reporter. I think that was clarified later. He did a receive a treatment that I think we all talked about when we reported him out with shoulder soreness at the time. But the fact of the matter is that he’s had multiple tests and multiple exams, a recent evaluation yesterday. We’re going to continue to see if there’s anything else we can come up with. But at this point, I think we’re just gonna take a step back, let everyone take a breath, and come reevaluate next week.”
It’s one thing for media members to speculate what’s going on, it’s another thing for an agent to come out and say what he said. But when you see the player himself retweeting said article.. you say you’re on the same page, but it seems, for a moment at least, that you weren’t.
“I don’t think that’s the case at all. I would love to know the statistics of players and retweets, whether players actually do that, or if people do that for them or friends do that for them. It’s something that I don’t really pay attention to. There’s always noise out there but it certainly doesn’t affect our decision making. I know I’m aligned with the agent, which probably manifested itself in the correction last night. Some people want to know why it took so long. When the agent is on a plane, you can’t quite get to him and its pretty impossible to speak or communicate. The bottom line is that I think we’re all aligned. I was in a room with Markelle this morning and we had a great conversation and reiterated a lot of things back and forth. I see a comfortable and confident young man who’s ready to take on the world. I’m excited about that.”
Are we too sensitive to this, be it the organization or the fans themselves, just based on what’s happened with first round picks in the past?
“I would think you have to be a little sensitive to that if you’re living in the past four years in this marketplace. I can’t speak for the previous regime. I’m here talking and answering questions in a transparent way and telling you exactly what’s going on. If there’s any criticism in that regard we’ll deal with, I’ll swallow it, and take my lumps, but we continue to make the right decisions, do right by the players, and but them in a position to succeed. That’s all we’re trying to do.”
It’s obvious that there was something wrong with Fultz. He was hesitant to shoot and didn’t look anywhere close to 100%. It didn’t make sense to have him out there in the first place – the Sixers perhaps should’ve seen this coming – but I think fans should primarily be happy that the franchise is taking a different approach just four games into the season. Let’s hit the reset button, get him healthy, then get him ready to go.
That said, this shouldn’t have come down to an agent speaking with Adrian Wojnarowski. There was obviously some sort of disagreement between the parties if Fultz’s agent ended up going that route. The Sixers could have reported that Fultz had a cortisone shot back on October 5th and explained the genesis of the injury, instead Brett Brown told us point blank that we were making too much of the story.
On a macro-level, I don’t think this is that big of a deal. On a micro level, it could have been managed better.