Markelle Fultz

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Brown 'sad' about Markelle Fultz trade

Dave Uram
February 09, 2019 - 8:50 am

One of the most mysterious sagas in Philadelphia sports history is over with Markelle Fultz being traded to Orlando right before Thursday’s trade deadline. And yet, there are still so many questions that might not ever be answered.

“I’d be lying if I didn’t feel sad,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said prior to Friday’s game against Denver. “It was two emotions I had. Sad personally, selfishly I suppose, that I never really felt like I got a chance to coach him. I never really felt like the city got a chance to see him. I felt sad for that. And I was pleased for him that he had a new start. He had a fresh start, another opportunity.”

Maybe it’s best for all parties, fans included, to let bygones by bygones, and move on, only to accept the fact that Fultz didn’t work out with the Sixers, the team that negotiated with division rival Boston to move up to number one overall in 2017 to select him out of the University of Washington, where he put together a very impressive freshman season.

Former President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo, who will be remembered most for his wife jeopardizing his Sixers career with multiple burner Twitter accounts, was the man behind the 76ers negotiating high stake assets with the Celtics. At the time, it was a move virtually everyone applauded, as Fultz was the consensus top pick. But, just because everyone but apparently Danny Ainge would’ve taken Fultz, that doesn’t make it a case of simply viewing the situation in hindsight.

Even hindsight needs to be criticized. If you’re at a high stakes blackjack table and everyone around you is telling you to take more cards with a decent hand already in possession, losing a big chunk of money is still losing a big chunk of money.

Colangelo decided it was a good idea to give a future first round pick to Boston for Fultz, who ended up playing only 33 regular season games in Philadelphia due to a lingering shoulder issue, averaging 7.7 points with only four total three-pointers made. Boston selected Jayson Tatum where the Sixers were supposed to pick at number three. Tatum, who like Fultz is about to turn 21, gives the Sixers fits. In addition, there were other talented players who went in that draft, such as Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox, Kyle Kozma and Dennis Smith Jr.

Due to “Burnergate,” Colangelo is no longer around to explain his colossal miss. Instead, Colangelo’s successor, Elton Brand, and Brown are left to talk about one of the most disappointing situations in Philadelphia 76ers history.

“We expected him to be back at sometime this season,” Brand said at a press conference Friday morning in Camden. “That was our hope. But, right now we got a chance to add a player wing depth, so we had to go do it now.”

That wing depth is 29-year-old Jonathon Simmons, who’s averaging 6.9 points per game at the time of the trade, shooting 22.9 percent from three-point ranger and 36.4 percent overall.

Regardless of the reason, it was obvious the Sixers weren’t fine with waiting for Fultz to return to basketball action anymore, and to get any return for him, let alone draft picks, is a good deal for both sides, as Fultz can benefit from a fresh start.

“Just where we are in the season, integrating him in a month or so when we were hoping he’d come back in two, three weeks, whenever that was, to add a piece now, get ready for the playoffs and to get some assets, a first round pick and a high second round pick, it just felt like it was the time to do it now,” Brand said.

Now was the right time to move on from Fultz and all the mysteries, controversies and distractions that came with him. But even though this particular era of Sixers basketball is over, it will linger until the 76ers end their over three decade championship drought. Facts are facts, and that 2017 lottery pick was an opportunity missed.