While the Boston Celtics are dealing with their own issues as they continue to underachieve so far this season, their headaches are nothing compared to those of the Philadelphia 76ers and Markelle Fultz.
In an 1,800-word breakdown of the latest development in the saga, Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann explained the “several possibilities” in which Fultz’s camp announcing that the second-year guard won’t participate in team activities until he’s been examined by an independent shoulder specialist “might trigger legal consequences.”
The ins and outs are too various to summarize here, so we suggest you read the full pierce yourself. The ordeal intertwines Fultz’s relationship with the Sixers, shooting guru Drew Hanlen and Nike, with whom Fultz has an endorsement contract. McCann states several times it’s most likely all parties will work out things outside the legal system.
Still, it can’t be overstated what an unwelcome distraction this is for the Sixers, a young team trying to develop budding stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid while also assimilating stud trade pickup Jimmy Butler. (That’s not even taking into account how the Butler acquisition — along with the forfeiture of useful role players Dario Saric and Robert Covington — might even not have been necessary if Fultz had lived up to his No. 1-overall pick hype.) Remember, the Celtics and Sixers both were teams on the rise when they swapped the first- and third-overall picks in 2017 that resulted in them drafting Jayson Tatum and Fultz, respectively.
It’s still too early to declare Fultz an all-out bust or Tatum a surefire great, but the merit of that deal can’t be judged on the performance of the players alone. At the very least, the Celtics don’t have to worry about setting meetings with their lawyers to protect themselves in the event things go south with their former No. 1 draft pick, as it sounds like the Sixers should be doing. That fact alone suggests Boston dodged a bullet.