The Orlando Magic may have their point guard of the future. If and when he gets back on the court, that is.
For the second straight season, the Magic make a deal just before the trade deadline. Last season they traded a point guard (Elfrid Payton), this year they acquired one.
Orlando sent Jonathon Simmons, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2020 first round pick, and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2019 second round pick to the Philadelhpia 76ers for Markelle Fultz, who was the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Magic are sending Jonathan Simmons, a first-round and a second-round pick to the Sixers, per sources. https://t.co/f724l2eSVS— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Fultz, though, has played in just 33 games since being drafted, averaging 7.7 points and 3.1 assists while shooting just 41.4 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three. The 20-year-old hasn’t played since November while recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome, a nerve disorder.
And he also has some shooting form issues that need to be straightened out...
Markelle Fultz’s form is quickly becoming the Charles Barkley golf swing of basketball my lord pic.twitter.com/zBVmeNMe8L— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) November 13, 2018
Fultz is owed $9.7 million next season and has a team option for $12.3 million in 2020-2021, giving the Magic time to evaluate him and, hopefully, correct whatever mechanic and confidence issues he is suffering from.
Fultz spent one season at the University of Washington, averaging 23.2 points, 5.9 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 47.6 from the field and 41.3 percent from three.
The Sixers were so intrigued by Fultz and his offensive abilities that they traded the third pick in the draft, which turned out to be Jayson Tatum, plus an additional 2019 first round pick, to the Celtics just to move up two spots to draft him. Fultz developed shoulder issues before the season began and, as a result, altered his shooting motion. It led to a saga between the Sixers and Fultz, who would play in just 14 games in his rookie season.
His struggles continued early in his second season before he received his nerve diagnosis. The Sixers - who are aiming for the NBA Finals with their new big four of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris - saw him as expendable.
For months, we have wondered whether the Orlando Magic would be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. They made a last-minute deal that brought in a young player/project with upside, without sacrificing any pieces of their core.
Simmons, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Orlando in the summer of 2017, has struggled in his second year with the Magic. His numbers from last season to this season have dropped across the board: from 13.9 points per game to 6.9, 3.5 rebounds to 2.4, 2.5 assists to 2.3, 46.5 field goal percentage to 36.4 percent, 33.8 percent from three to 22.9 percent. Only $1 million of his $5.7 million salary is guaranteed in the final year of his deal next season.
So it was a low-risk, high-reward type of trade for the Magic, one that the fan base will likely be satisfied with.
Very stoked for Fultz. The Magic gave up peanuts for a project with immense talent.— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) February 7, 2019
If Fultz is going to make it in the NBA and turn his career around, he’s going to do it in an Orlando uniform.
Now that’s something our entire fan base can collectively get behind! (AG)
Much more on this story coming soon!