Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz plans to return to the floor on Monday against the Indiana Pacers, he announced on the Orlando Magic Pod Squad. “I’m just blessed just to be able to, one, be where I am today after going through an injury like this and being able to fight and just be back on the court with my brothers and friends,” Fultz said. “So, one, I’m just blessed and I’m thankful for the process and the journey that I’ve been through. I’m very excited just to get out there with my teammates and go out there and compete.”
Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was dealt to Orlando at the 2019 trade deadline and had improved steadily since his underwhelming tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers. In early January of 2021, though, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. He hasn’t played since, and given his history of injuries, the Magic needed to be cautious with their young guard.
Fultz has dealt with other knee issues in the past, but the first two seasons of his NBA career were ruined by a case of thoracic outlet syndrome in his shoulder that played a part in ruining his jump shot. He’s never quite recovered, and even as he improved in Orlando, he has still never shot better than 28.6 percent from behind the arc in the NBA.
The Magic team he’ll be returning to is a very different one than he had been playing on. Veteran stalwarts Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier are gone. The team is now rebuilding, and young guards Jalen Suggs, R.J. Hampton and Cole Anthony are now entrenched in the backcourt. Fultz will have to compete with not only them but veterans Gary Harris and Terrence Ross for playing time.
But the Magic, at the bottom of the standings, have little to lose by putting him back on the floor. Fultz is in the middle of a $50 million contract, so Orlando would surely like to get him back up to speed and contributing as quickly as possible. Monday will be first chance to prove he has a place in Orlando’s future since last season’s injury.
Courtesy: CBS Sports