Steve Clifford Doesn’t Expect Markelle Fultz To Play For The Magic This Season

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The Orlando Magic are in the midst of a playoff push, but they’re also keeping one eye on the future with regards to their roster. While Orlando could have tried to make a bigger swing at the postseason at the trade deadline by bringing in some point guard help for the immediate, they instead made a deal for Markelle Fultz, the first overall pick in the 2017 Draft who has been plagued by a somewhat mysterious shoulder injury.

Fultz played sparingly for the Sixers at the beginning of this season and continued to struggle with his shot and apparent shoulder issue. He finally shut things down in November to seek treatment for a new diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and has been rehabbing ever since.

Still, Fultz had apparently expressed hope that he could come back this season, but the Magic will not be expecting that to be the case. Steve Clifford recently spoke with Sirius XM NBA radio about the possibility of Fultz playing this season, and Clifford is clearly approaching this with the long play of trying to have him healthy and ready for the 2019-20 season, noting Fultz was still rehabbing and was barely doing any on-court work.

This comes as little surprise, but it’s probably best for both parties. Orlando can focus on their playoff push without trying to work Fultz into the rotation late in the season, and Fultz gets another extended period of rehab and rest to try and get back on track for his career. Next season, we’ll hopefully see Fultz out there in a Magic uniform and looking like the player he was at Washington, but until we see it for real there will always be some skepticism that player still exists.