The time is now for these Philadelphia 76ers to end the Markelle Fultz experiment. We’ll get into why a bit later, but there’s certainly a backstory here that suggests Fultz’ time in the City of Brotherly Love should soon come to an end.
It starts with Jimmy Buckets, and continues from there.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ trade for All-NBA performer Jimmy Butler became official on Tuesday. It’s the first big move for new general manager Elton Brand and changes up Philadelphia’s motto from “The Process” to “Championship or Bust.”
Without any further guarantees from the pending free agent, it was a risky move for Brand and Co. After all, Philadelphia traded away two assets in Robert Covington and Dario Saric who figured into the team’s future.
It creates a big three with Butler, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. It also creates somewhat of a void on the roster. Both Covington and Saric were among Philadelphia’s best perimeter shooters. With a starting group that now consists of non-shooters in Simmons and Markelle Fultz, there’s a growing sense of imbalance on the roster.
Brand recognized as much following the announcement of the Butler trade.
Sixers GM Elton Brand says the club will be looking for shooting going forward and he will continue to evaluate the market given PHI's open roster spot. He says the Sixers have gotten tons of calls. Seems like Philadelphia could be a landing spot for Knicks veteran Courtney Lee.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) November 13, 2018
It makes perfect sense. If the Sixers can trade future draft pick assets and a rotational player for a shooter, Brand will have to seriously consider it. The team is also reportedly interested in Cleveland Cavaliers sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who has just recently been placed on the trade block.
Even then, we’re not too sure a move of this ilk would change the dynamic a whole lot in the Eastern Conference. Boston entered the season as the odds-on favorites in the conference.
Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors are now the best team in the lesser of the NBA’s two conferences.
That brings us to our overriding point. Philadelphia should bite the bullet and trade Markelle Fultz before it’s too late. Having two perimeter players in Fultz and Simmons unable to consistently hit from the outside is not a recipe for success in today’s fast-paced and three-point heavy NBA. Brand and Co. have to recognize this moving forward.
Brand himself was not a key component in the decision-making process that made Fultz the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Admitting a mistake by trading the 20-year-old guard wouldn’t necessarily paint Brand in a bad light.
Fultz in Philadelphia is like fitting a square peg into a round hole. He doesn’t fit what the team is trying to do on offense. His presence is also rather pointless with Simmons being able to run the point and Fultz not providing anything of substance from the shooting guard position.
If the Sixers were to move Fultz, they’d net a better return than the likes of Courtney Lee and Kyle Korver, two names that have been bandied about in lesser deals.
Sure the NBA trade market has yet to fully play out ahead of February’s deadline. But we have a good understanding of non-contenting teams that might be willing to trade off veteran assets for a high-upside player in Fultz who might be in need of a change in scenery.
Pure conjecture here, but a team like the Charlotte Hornets could make sense. They’ve had star guard Kemba Walker on the trade block for some time now. In the midst of a season that’s seen him average nearly 28 points on 38 percent shooting from distance, Walker would it in well in Philadelphia.
It would enable JJ Redick to star as the sixth-man. It would also create a solid starting five with Simmons, Walker, Butler, Embiid and a combination of Mike Muscala and/or Amir Johnson. From a Hornets’ perspective, adding Fultz and future picks to team up with shooting guard Malik Monk would be a nice start.
That’s just one hypothetical example of how a Fultz’ trade could work out. Either way, it seems to be time for the Sixers to move on from Fultz. And if they can find a better fit in a trade, why not make the move sooner rather than later?