Bryan Colangelo says the 76ers don't know when or if Markelle Fultz will play again this season.
"There always a chance that he's going to be out there soon," the team president of basketball operations said, "and there's a chance that's he not going to play this year. I can't answer that question, because we don't know the answer to that."
That's somewhat different from what Sixers coach Brett Brown has been saying. In various interviews, the coach said he expected Fultz to return this season.
Friday night's matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans at Wells Fargo Center will mark the 48th consecutive game that the first overall pick will miss because of what the team labeled right shoulder soreness and muscle imbalance. However, Fultz was cleared to resume all basketball activities on Dec. 9. He and the team are saying he had to fully relearn how to shoot because of the shoulder injury.
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The problems with his shooting form, though, also appear to be mental.
"Mental preparedness and overcoming an injury is part of any athlete, especially an elite athlete, overcoming a debilitating injury," Colangelo said. "It's been proven in studies that is a big component. All you have to do is talk to Ben (Simmons) and Joel (Embiid) and talk about what they've been through."
Embiid was sidelined the first two seasons after two surgeries on his right foot. Then he played in only 31 games last season because of knee surgery and other ailments. Simmons, the first overall pick in 2016, missed all of last season after breaking his right foot on the final day of training camp.
"We are talking about a situation where someone is relearning how to shoot a basketball, and that was one of his elite skill sets," Colangelo said of Fultz. "That has to be frustrating.
"But overall, I think he's making great strides in every capacity. We are going to see a better Markelle Fultz because of it."
Right now, Fultz's shooting range doesn't extend beyond the paint. Colangelo said that's where you draw the line. Fultz can make anything instinctive going to the hole, he added.
"We talked about shot creation and some of the rise-ups," Colangelo said. "It's nice to see it coming along the way it is."