It’s Fultz speed ahead.
Sorry for the pun, but it was too easy and fitting. Markelle Fultz, whose presence in Orlando has been shrouded in a mix of hope and mystery, has officially been cleared for training camp with no restrictions.
“We don’t have any restrictions in place right now for training camp,” Jeff Weltman, the Magic president of basketball operations, told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously that being said, we will continue to move forward cautiously and under the direction of our performance staff. Obviously he hasn’t been through this in a while so it will all be new terrain. But as of now, there aren’t any restrictions. We expect him to be a full participant.”
The day began with the Magic releasing a video of the former No. 1 overall pick - who has been rehabbing from thoracic outlet syndrome - offering a glimpse of his on-court activity publicly for the first time...
In case you were wondering what Markelle's been up to... pic.twitter.com/3RE39oLN51— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) September 25, 2019
It was a big step and a clear vote of confidence from the organization, which had been rather vague with previous updates on Fultz after he was acquired at the trade deadline last February.
Fultz was then on the court when the media was permitted to enter the team’s workout at the Magic practice facility on Wednesday, showing off his handle, form and range.
“Man, I cant tell you how great it feels to be out there,” Fultz told reporters. “All the trials and tribulations. Just sticking to living in the now and working hard. So I feel real good. I’m looking forward to training camp and taking it day-by-day.”
Markelle Fultz, here in a blue t-shirt, is among the Magic players at the arena right now for a voluntary workout: pic.twitter.com/O8A59DTlqu— Josh Robbins (@JoshuaBRobbins) September 25, 2019
Fultz, who compared his injury to wearing a suit jacket and not being able to fully lift your arm, said he is no longer feeling discomfort after his lengthy rehab process.
“It’s more than just getting up shots,” he said of the process. “It’s been a lot of rehab, a lot of management of when to work and when not to work because I want to be in everyday. Orlando has been doing a good job of managing me. So it’s been a lot of in the gym, in the weight room, getting the right lifts in, getting the right treatment, and then also the right work on the court.”
Despite being cleared for training camp, Fultz and Weltman would not put a timetable on his return to game action.
“I’m just looking at training camp right now,” Fultz said when asked if he plans to play in the first game of the season. “I feel good and I’m taking in step-by-step.”
Weltman said there is no expectation or schedule for Fultz.
“We are going to remain patient,” Weltman said. “We’e not going to put expectations or timelines on his development. He hasn’t played basketball in a year. He’s played 33 games total in his career. So it’s gonna unfold the way it unfolds, as we always say with all of our young guys. Markelle is another one, he’s 21 yeas old. For him, it’s just getting better everyday.”
Markelle Fultz’s free throw form is looking good— Be Magic Or Be Gone! (@BeORLMagic) September 25, 2019
: orlandomagicradio/IG pic.twitter.com/SmgdAv82DV
The Magic were encouraged enough from what they had seen from Fultz to pick up his fourth-year option last week.
“Now that you’ve seen him, you can see that was a no-brainer,” Weltman said. “That wasn’t even a question.”
Added Fultz: “I think it just shows you how much belief they have in me and the work that I put in. So it shows the relationship we have.”
Being a highly-touted prospect who was drafted first overall by the Sixers only to quickly fall from grace after suffering a mysterious injury has left many outside of Central Florida doubting Fultz’s ability and future in the NBA. Silencing the haters isn’t a priority for Fultz.
“As far as trying to prove people wrong, I don’t really focus on that because I know my ability, I know my team knows my ability,” Fultz said. “So I really just focus on going out there and playing my best game and trying to help this team win.”
Asked if he believes he can return to the form that made him the top overall pick, Fultz responded, “100 percent.”
“A lot of people are getting caught up on me shooting.” he added. “I think it’s more than shooting that I bring to the table. It’s my leadership, it’s my defensive stuff I do on the defensive end, it’s the playmaking ability I got. I definitely think, with no doubt, with this team, the coaching staff and the way I am being coachable and being able to play different positions, I think it will be no problem.”
How good does he think this Orlando Magic team can be?
“I think it can be really good,” Fultz said. “It comes back to woking hard, listening to coach’s execution plans. I think we can be really good. We already did really good last year and then what I can bring to the table, I think it’s just gonna put us over the limit.”