With respect to the Sixers organization, Bryan Colangelo’s Friday availability was 75% non-answer, 15% useful information, and 10% off-topic questions from media members who missed the point.
Because the only topic of the day should have been Markelle Fultz, and what exactly is going on with the rookie’s bum shoulder.
In the interest of context, I’ll post the full transcript here, but first some bullet points:
- Colangelo says they still don’t know how the shoulder injury happened.
- There’s no timeline for a return. Colangelo would not rule Fultz out for the season, but said he may or may not play, which answers nothing.
- He reiterated that Fultz has to relearn his mechanics as a result of the shoulder injury.
- It seems to me like Fultz’s agent and his people are still at odds with the team, especially based on the TNT interview Fultz did the other night that apparently was organized without the Sixers’ public relations staff.
Anyway, here’s the transcript. I took out the bullshit questions about the trade deadline and anything not concerning Markelle’s injury:
Is there a chance that Markelle Fultz gets shut down for the season?
Colangelo: “There’s always a chance that he’s going to be out there soon and there’s a chance that he’s not going to play this year. I can’t answer that question because we don’t know the answer to that. Markelle’s doing great, he’s progressing well. He’s doing things on the basketball court that appear a natural display of his talents and basketball instincts and he’s continuing to progress. Markelle had an injury as you all are aware. That injury led to a lack of muscle control and coordination of his muscles. And through physical therapy and strength and conditioning, and now increasing basketball activities, he’s regaining his form with respect to every aspect of his preparedness to play. Whether it’s the physical component, the shot mechanics, everything. And when he’s ready and we feel he’s ready and the situation is ripe for him to succeed, then we’ll put him out there. But until then, I don’t have a timeline for you.“
Has he been medically cleared?
Colangelo: “Don’t get confused with the terminology, let’s be very clear. Back when he had an MRI, there was nothing that was indicated on the MRI that showed any structural damage. He was still struggling as you know and we shut him down. We further reviewed his case and tried to dive deeper, and we found that there was a scapular injury that was causing the breakdown. So that is what is being dealt with, that is why he’s going through a long and difficult recovery, and that’s what he’s working on. You can’t confuse medical clearance and being ready to play basketball. Like I said, he’s doing great. He’s coming along, he’s doing some great things in terms of his growth. Physically, I think he’s in better shape than he was coming into the season because he’s been working so hard. He’s literally retraining his shooting mechanics right now. And like I said, outside of perhaps perimeter shooting, he’s doing some things on the basketball court in the limited basketball practice activity that he’s taking place in and that he’s participating in, and he’s dazzling in many ways. But when he’s going to be ready to help this team and be ready, I can’t give you a timeline.”
Why is he not ready right now?
Colangelo: “Like I said, he’s retraining his shooting mechanics, he’s retraining his muscle movement patterns, all those things. And that’s the part of this that is a little bit of an unknown for us, and for our medical team. There’s no timeline, per say, but I do know he’s working hard and he’s doing a lot of great things on the basketball court, and we hope to see him this year. If not we will wait until he’s ready to participate, and help, and put him in a position to succeed. And that’s going to be a determination that’s made at some point in the future.”
Is there a cut-off date to come back?
Colangelo: “I don’t think we’ve discussed that. I don’t think that it’s something that is a good question. Is there a time where he can be integrated into what we’re doing. I would say that through the time that he has spent with the coaching staff in video sessions, and strategic conversations, conversations on strategy, excuse me, and the integration with the team in various drills, and even some 5-on-5 competitive components of practice, I don’t think it’s going to be a tough integration. Someone of Markelle’s talent and ability, it comes naturally. There’s enough familiarity with the rest of the team that it’s not going to be a difficult transition.”
How much of the retraining is due to repetitions with a personal trainer over the summer?
Colangelo: “That’s really a question that I can’t answer. We don’t know the answer to that. We don’t know what the cause of the injury was. There was an indication from the doctor in Kentucky that it was, perhaps, based on overuse, and maybe what I’ll call irregular motion and that’s what we said at the time. We don’t know if it was working on the shot that led to the soreness, or the soreness that led to working on the shot. But the fact of the matter is that sometime in August the injury occurred, and now we’re dealing with the consequences of that. Again, Markelle was drafted here because of his elite talent and his ability to play the game at an elite level, and we have every confidence that he’s going to return to that.”
What can’t he do that you need him to be able to?
Colangelo: “I answered that question already.”
Why is he being taken out of conditioning drills?
Colangelo: “I don’t know that he’s being taken out of conditioning drills, per se. He’s taken out of various drills in practice situations, in practice settings, where he either is not able to continue or where there are situations that are situations that are more conducive for the players that are actually playing the games, meaning we have to prepare for opponents and we have to go through things that the active roster has to participate in. There are occasional moments where he is still continuing to fight through the physical fatigues of some of the rehabilitation activity. Again, a lot of physiotherapy, intensive strength and conditioning, a lot of increase in basketball activity.”
How much of Markelle’s issues are mental?
Colangelo: “Mental preparedness and overcoming an injury is part of any athlete, especially an elite athlete overcoming a debilitating injury. It’s been proven in studies that it is a big component. All you have to do is talk to Ben or Joel about what they went through from a mental component, overcoming injuries and stepping back onto the court. But we’re talking about a situation where someone is relearning how to shoot a basketball and that was one of his elite skill sets and that’s got to be frustrating. But overall I think he’s making great strides in every capacity and we’re going to see a better Markelle Fultz because of it.”
Does he need to be able to make a jump shot from a certain distance?
Colangelo: “No. I think he’s got to feel right and we’ve got to feel right and when it all comes together he’ll be out there playing. He may even get out there before that. What I see him do instinctively, drives in the lane, spin, dribbles, rise up, pull up, everything within a certain range, it’s beautiful. It’s coming, and he’s going to get more and more comfortable and as he gets more and more comfortable I’m sure he’ll start to step out on the perimeter.”
What’s the range now?
Colangelo: “It’s within the paint basically. Paint shots. Perimeter shots are where you kind of draw a line. Anything thing instinctive, going to the hole. We talked about shot creation and some of the rise ups. It’s nice to see. It’s nice to see it coming along the way it is.”
Have you ever experienced anything like this with a high draft pick?
Colangelo: I personally have not seen this injury in basketball, but I’ve seen it in baseball a lot. This is obviously an injury like any other injury, so whether it’s a fracture, or a scapular injury, it’s all the same. There’s a time and recovery period that you need to go through, and Markelle is going through that right now.
On the difference between rehabbing the shoulder injury and relearning mechanics – is this two different issues?
Colangelo: I don’t think so at all. They’re really two in the same and they’re related. Again, it was a breakdown in muscle function and coordination. Once you get that back, which is not fully back when you’re going through this recovery and rehabilitation. You’re also simultaneously trying to retrain what those movement patterns were where you can shoot a basketball. There have been some limitations for some time and he’s getting through it. Again, there’s a long recovery. It’s taken probably longer than anyone had hoped or imagined. But again, he’s making progress and headway and I fully anticipate that he’ll be out there doing what he does so well, which is scoring the basketball and creating for with others and impacting our team in a positive way, hopefully in the near future.”
After the presser, we went out to see if Markelle was working at shoot around, which he was.
Two video clips:
Markelle Fultz at shoot around: pic.twitter.com/UoLUctHKrw
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) February 9, 2018
More Markelle: pic.twitter.com/nG1RKDoiO4
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) February 9, 2018
When we walked into the gym, JJ Redick looked super annoyed with the spread of media who immediately began shooting video of Markelle.
“He’s only 19,” Redick said to himself. He obviously wasn’t enthused with the pattern of sharing clips like the ones above.
So I asked him at availability if it was something he was interested in talking about:
“Yea, I mean, it is annoying,” Redick said. “The guy’s 19, he’s working his ass off. I understand that fans want to see his progress, but this is maybe gonna be a longer process than we all hoped for. (Whether he’s on the court soon or not), obviously that’s not my thing. I don’t get the coming in here every day to watch him shoot pull-up jumpers. It’s a little obsessive.”
I don’t disagree with JJ, I really don’t. Nobody gets into the business to shoot video clips of rehabbing players, but if we could talk to Markelle himself and actually ask him what happened, we would do it.
It is what it is. They painted themselves into a corner.