Less than two years ago, Markelle Fultz was the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Now the Philadelphia 76ers are ready to move on. Why not the Brooklyn Nets?
The Philadelphia 76ers are in one of the more bizarre situations in recent memory, ready to move on from last year’s No. 1 overall pick in Markelle Fultz. The Brooklyn Nets, meanwhile, are in a familiar situation, fading quickly from playoff contention with the clock ticking on several key contracts.
Fultz is currently sidelined with wrist and shoulder injuries amidst rumors that the real problem affecting the much-publicized shooting of the former No. 1 pick is located in that space between his ears, with other potential red flags present as well, according to a report from Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Phoenix Suns are reportedly interested in making a deal for Fultz, but according to Pompey’s piece, potential trade partners want to know the truth about the injuries — are they legitimate or are they a smoke screen for a mental block with Fultz’s shooting.
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The Nets are in a better position, however, to give Philadelphia what it wants and needs to make a run this season — depth at point guard and a switchy defender on the perimeter.
The Suns could offer Philadelphia a player such as veteran Trevor Ariza, a 3-and-D wing who has the size to be a small-ball 4, much the way Wilson Chandler has been filling the same role for Philadelphia since the 76ers acquired Jimmy Butler earlier this month.
The problem with centering a deal around Ariza, from the perspective of the 76ers, is that Ariza signed a one-year, $15 million contract last summer. So (a) he’s not available until Dec. 15 at the earlier and (b) Fultz’s $8.3 million salary would require the 76ers to further deplete their depth.
That’s where the Nets come in, with a sweetener that would allow Philadelphia to significantly upgrade its depth at point guard.
Brooklyn has (in case this hasn’t been mentioned a time or two) freed up significant salary cap space to make a run at potential free agents next summer.
But with the Nets at 8-14 and fading fast (they’ve lost four straight and five in a row at home), Brooklyn may be faced with the problem of not presenting an attractive target to players of the caliber of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson or the aforementioned Butler.
Before we get into the deal, let’s take a look at Philadelphia’s role in breaking Fultz as a player and how the Nets might be able to repair the damage.