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Reports: Markelle Fultz to visit shoulder specialist 'at direction of his attorney'

Philadelphia 76ers guard Markelle Fultz will sit out all team practices and games until he receives an evaluation on his shoulder from a non-team specialist, according to reports from David Aldridge of The Athletic and Ian Begley of ESPN.

Fultz is seeking the evaluation at the request of his agent and attorney, Raymond Brothers. The 20-year-old guard is expected to undergo the evaluation on Monday.

“This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard,” coach Brett Brown said on Tuesday. “If it’s that real, and he needs to go see a further sort of consultation, then we support him.”

However, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fultz took part in light shooting with the Sixers on Tuesday even after Brothers’ said that wouldn’t be the case going forward.

Sixers general manager Elton Brand said Fultz’s agent told him the guard wouldn’t practice or play until the results of Monday’s examination. Brand said he was told Monday was the earliest Fultz could see a specialist.

Brand said he was unaware if anything was wrong with Fultz’s shoulder. Fultz had said this month he wasn’t bothered by the shoulder.

“There’s nothing that we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play,” Brand said. “He played last night. He played two nights ago. Ever since Jimmy Butler came and he wasn’t starting, I felt he played pretty well. I was proud of the way he bounced back from a lot of things.”

Fultz has struggled with shoulder issues, which have affected his shot, since the Sixers drafted him in 2017. The former No. 1 pick played in just 14 games last season due to his shoulder situation and shot below 50 percent from the free-throw line.

During training camp, Fultz said his shoulder was healthy and he was ready to return to the team after an offseason working with skills trainer Drew Hanlen.

“I put in a lot of hours this summer to get up reps of going through a whole bunch of different situations,” Fultz said in September. “So coming in, I feel perfectly fine. I’m confident.”

Despite his confidence, Fultz has continued to struggle this season with averages of 8.2 points (on 41.9 percent shooting), 3.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 22.5 minutes over 19 games.

Fultz was the starting shooting guard for the first 15 games of the season before the Sixers acquired Jimmy Butler. Since the trade, J.J. Redick moved into the starting lineup and Fultz’s playing time dwindled to a season-low of seven minutes against the Phoenix Suns on Monday.

After the game, when questioned about his decision to turn to guard T.J. McConnell over Fultz during the second half, coach Brett Brown didn’t commit to either player as his backup point guard.

“I don’t know,” Brown said after the Sixers’ 119-114 win.

When would he know?

“Just when I think it through deeper and look at tape and see who we’re playing, the next opponent, all those things I should do.”

Fultz was more candid about the situation and expressed willingness to work alongside McConnell.

“Our relationship is more than teammates,” Fultz said after the game. “We both want to see each other do well, and we want to see the team win, so anytime one of us step on the court, we are probably rooting for each other more than most people. That’s how it is.

“You definitely want to go out there and compete … I’m a competitor. But, at the end of the day, coach made a decision to do that, so I have to live with it. My mindset is just, when I step on the court, go out there and play. But while T.J. is out there, I’m rooting for him.

“It’s not like I’m sitting on the bench pouting or anything. I want to be out there, but I’m going to root for my teammates.”

The Sixers host the New Orleans Pelicans tonight (7 ET, NBA League Pass).