The Cleveland Cavaliers had spoken to the Philadelphia 76ers about the potential availability of second-year point guard Markelle Fultz, as reported by basketball analyst Sam Amico.

A few days ago, Amico reported the Cavs offered a protected draft pick and shooting guard Kyle Korver to the 76ers in exchange for Fultz.

Last night, however, the Cavaliers dealt Korver to the Utah Jazz in exchange for forward Alec Burks and two future second-round draft selections. Cleveland could still engage in trade talks with Philadelphia.

If the organization still maintains interest in Fultz, it might be trickier for Cleveland to make a trade since Korver has been traded to another franchise. Philadelphia might set up the price relatively high as well. That’s considering the expectations the 76ers had for Fultz coming into the league.

In the 2017 NBA Draft, the 76ers traded up with the Boston Celtics to select Fultz with the first overall pick. Since then, Fultz has battled a myriad of mysterious injuries, most of which relate directly to his shoulder and his ability to shoot the ball at an elite level.

During his rookie season, Fultz only appeared in 14 games, although he didn’t make a single start. He averaged only 7.1 points and 3.8 assists per game. He was mostly sidelined due to a shoulder injury.

This season, Fultz appeared in 19 games; he started 15 of them. Despite increased playing time, Fultz hasn’t remained healthy, and according to league rumors, wants a fresh start with a new organization. The Cavs could be one team Fultz can essentially restart his professional career with.

Why it makes sense for Cleveland?

When the Cavs decided to trade Korver to Utah; however, a potential Fultz trade could grow increasingly unlikely, but a future trade between both organizations should still be a possibility. For Cleveland and Philadelphia, a trade still makes sense.

The Cavs are in the midst of a rebuild, although their roster to start the season still remains intact, despite the absence of guard JR Smith and the toe injury to all-star forward Kevin Love. Cleveland is currently one of the three worst teams in the NBA, alongside the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns. Since the league changed the lottery odds (worst three teams have exact same odds, 14 percent, to obtain the No. 1 pick), the Cavs are likely in tank mode.

It remains to be seen how severe Fultz’s injury is and when his shooting issues can end, or if they end. During his only season at the University of Washington, Fultz averaged 23.2 points per game, 5.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He shot 47 percent from the field, including 41% from 3-point range.

At this stage, it would be a low-risk opportunity for the Cavs to take on Fultz in a trade. Through the first 20 games, Collin Sexton would operate more efficiently at the two guard rather than point. While he would have to rehab his shoulder, the opportunity for Fultz to start fresh with a franchise dealing with extremely low expectations and almost no pressure could prove positive.

What a different deal could look like

In order to shed existing salary, the Cavaliers could part ways with veteran assets, including Smith, George Hill or anyone else Philadelphia might be interested in. If Cleveland traded either Smith or Hill in a Fultz trade, they’d likely have to match salaries with Philadelphia. The Cavaliers could take on forward Wilson Chandler from Philadelphia, who’s owed $12.8 million in the final year of a four-year/$46.5 million contract.

Per Sam Amico, the Cavaliers are willing to add long-term contracts to part ways with its current veterans. In a hypothetical trade, Cleveland could take on a contract like that from Philadelphia in order to acquire Fultz, while trading players like Hill, Smith and so on.

Since there’d be no pressure to succeed right away, Cleveland could provide the perfect opportunity for Fultz to rehab his game back to his high school and collegiate level.

Why it makes sense for Philadelphia?

The situation with Fultz continues to grow more intriguing, as both his agent and coach Brett Brown denied any reports that their second-year guard wanted out of Philadelphia.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported; “Fultz is no longer in the Sixers’ long-term plans.”

In addition with Fultz rumored to have demanded a trade from Philadelphia, coach Brown appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic to dispel any rumors that Fultz wanted out.

“They’re inaccurate. And all of that stuff, we learned five days ago, somebody had written or spoken about he wanted to maybe look at other options, as well,” Brown said. “I think it’s just part of the world we live in. It’s not shocking or surprising to me personally that these things come up. I get it. And I think that Elton Brand, in the role that he has – I’m thrilled to have Elton as my general manager – that’s certainly all in his wheelhouse more than mine.”

Right now, the 76ers are among the contenders for the Eastern Conference title. Philadelphia currently ranks third in the conference standings, behind the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks.

Without Fultz, the 76ers only have two point guards on their roster: TJ McConnell and Ben Simmons, who plays forward as well. Simmons can’t shoot, while McConnell is an efficient role player, but not a starter on a playoff team.

If Philadelphia decides to part ways with Fultz, Hill is a good option to help bolster their point guard position. He is also a veteran with valuable postseason experience.

Final Thoughts

After trading for all-star guard Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves, it signaled the conclusion of “The Process,” a half-decade’s worth of tanking to get better picks and better players. Philadelphia had to part ways with both Robert Covington and Dario Saric, but trading for Butler indicated the 76ers are all in to win now, not years down the road.

On the other hand, Cleveland is tied for the second-worst record in the league, which won’t improve as the season continues. While a trade between Cleveland and Philadelphia centered around Fultz is highly unlikely, it’s intriguing to entertain the prospect.

The 76ers seem comfortable with their current roster, even without Fultz. The league rumors continue to indicate Philadelphia no longer values Fultz as part of their organization’s plan. They seem to be growing tired of his injury and shooting issues.

In the end, a situation like Cleveland without high expectations or pressure to succeed instantly could be just the organization Fultz needs. He’s only owed $9.75 million next season, with a club option of $12.2 million for the 2020-2021 season. If it didn’t work in Cleveland, the Cavs can cut ties with Fultz without any potential risk involved.

While a trade centered around Korver is no longer possible, both organizations should still entertain the prospects of involving Fultz in a future trade.

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