According to sources who spoke with Liberty Ballers Wednesday, the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic have recently demonstrated interest in trading for Markelle Fultz.
The recent adductor injury to Pistons reserve guard (and former Sixer) Ish Smith, as well as inconsistent play from Detroit’s lead guard, Reggie Jackson, has the Eastern Conference rival exploring ways to possibly shake up its backcourt while adding a high-upside prospect. An increased willingness for risk in Detroit can be partially interpreted as a testament of faith in incumbent Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey, who Detroit has confidence in, and disappointment (among some in the organization) in their current rotation of guards.
Two of the Pistons’ assistant general managers, Malik Rose, and Sachin Gupta, have ties to Philadelphia. The former was a broadcaster from 2011-2015 for the Sixers, while the latter was the driving force behind many of (former team president) Sam Hinkie’s trades.
As for Orlando, it is no secret they too want to improve their guard spot. With a renewed emphasis on player development (having recently given up too soon on former lottery pick Victor Oladipo), they’re confident they now have a group, run by coach Steve Clifford, where high-upside, athletic, and defensively capable players can reach their full potential. This environment makes the former first overall pick appealing to them.
Fultz was recently diagnosed with neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome and is currently in California, rehabbing with Dr. Judy Seto. Dr. Seto specializes in treating NBA stars, Kobe Bryant being one example, and was recently profiled here by our own Kevin F. Love.
This Saturday, December 15, will be the date newly signed free agents will be eligible for trade.
On the Pistons, three such players include José Calderón, Glenn Robinson III, and Zaza Pachulia.
On the Magic, Isaiah Briscoe fits the bill.
Of course, other players like Ish Smith, Langston Galloway, Terrence Ross, and Jonathan Simmons also have contracts that are comparable to Fultz’s current salary (currently making ~$8.3M and due ~$9.7M next season) and could potentially help the Sixers during a playoff run, without costing the franchise the chance to pursue bigger talents come July.
The possibility of a three-team trade exists as well. The Phoenix Suns were recently linked via rumor to the former first overall pick, but have recently cooled to the idea, we were told.
Fultz is eager to return to the court with a fresh start as soon as he is healthy. For the Sixers, the possibility of improving their current roster depth while simultaneously increasing their cap space for this summer carries a lot of appeal within their fledgling, but very ambitious, collaborative front office. For what it’s worth, there are members of the Sixers brass who would have preferred to “keep trying to make it work here” given Fultz’s upside, although the prevailing opinion now is that it would be better for everyone to simply move forward.
Things should heat up over the next couple of weeks.