About 24 hours after news broke that the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics were engaged in blockbuster trade talks for the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Markelle Fultz wore a black 76ers baseball cap on his way into the team’s workout facility in Camden, N.J. Soon he traded it for a grey “Philadelphia Basketball” T-shirt he sported during the workout.
The 6-foot-4 Fultz, the presumed No. 1 pick, was previously set to work out for Boston on Saturday, but his plans changed as the Sixers finalized a deal with the Celtics for the No. 1 pick.
Boston will deal it for the Sixers’ No. 3 pick this year plus their 2018 first-round pick which is protected 2-5, per The Vertical.
“I just wake up and go where they tell me to go,” Fultz said of the Sixers workout. “Waking up and they said, ‘We have to go to Philly.’ I was just like, ‘OK, I’m ready for it.’ [Friday] and the day before, I think they were deciding where we were going to go next after the [Los Angeles] Lakers workout.”
Asked what he made of all the trade rumors, Fultz added: “I wake up every morning and get ready to go to the gym. I don’t really pay attention to everything that’s going on. I’m truly blessed to be in this position. Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to taking my talents to wherever I go.”
— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) June 18, 2017
Fultz previously worked out for the Celtics and Lakers, but now he will be a Sixer come draft night on Thursday, allowing the franchise to pair him with Ben Simmons, last year’s No. 1 overall pick, and Joel Embiid to complete “The Process.”
“I think it would be great,” he said of playing with the Sixers. “I mean, get up and down, and they’re big on defense so I think the tools that I have as a defensive player will help them get out in transition.”
— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) June 18, 2017
The Sixers will now have back-to-back No. 1 picks, following the Cleveland Cavaliers who added Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins as No. 1s in 2013 and ’14. Neither is still on the team, however.
“I play with great players all the time, so whatever he needs me to do,” Fultz said of Simmons. “If I’m running the floor or I’m setting the screen for him or giving it back, it doesn’t matter. I’ll be a great teammate. If that’s me on the bench clapping for him, it doesn’t matter to me.”
Embiid posted a photo to social media of himself alongside Fultz, Simmons and Robert Covington, and another photo of Fultz’s nameplate in the Sixers’ locker room with the tagline “Trust the Process.”
“First of all, Embiid, he and I have been talking before when I was in college,” Fultz said. “He’s a cool guy. He’s giving me tips and pointers and he’s pretty funny, so when I saw that it was pretty cool and pretty funny. I’m pretty happy that the players here want me to come here.”
— Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) June 18, 2017
Kevin Boyle, who coached Simmons and Embiid at Montverde (FL) Academy, believes Fultz would be a great complement.
“I think that would be a be a good fit for Ben to get somebody who can really make shots,” Boyle told ZAGSBLOG.
“Obviously, [Fultz] is a great player and I think they could use somebody who could really shoot the ball, too, like he can. With Ben, he can get to the rim and push. And Ben’s a great passer, kind of like LeBron [James], when he finds guys for 3’s and those bullet passes. Bringing the ball up, he hits you in the hands and if you can make shots, it makes it easier for those guys, LeBron or Ben, to get to the rim if you gotta stay home with shooters.”
Meantime, two days after working out Kentucky shooting guard Malik Monk on Thursday, the Sixers also had his former teammate, point guard De’Aaron Fox, in earlier Saturday.
“Wherever I’m drafted, I’m going to go there and I’m going to give my best effort,” said Fox, currently projected as the No. 5 pick to Sacramento per DraftExpress.com.
Asked what qualities he will bring to an NBA team, Fox, who has been compared to John Wall of the Washington Wizards, said: “Just my competitiveness. Sometimes that just puts someone over. You have some people that come in the gym, they don’t work hard. I’m coming in the gym and I’m attacking no matter who I’m going at. So, that’s one thing. Defensively, I like to get after people, I’m able to get to the rim, beat my man and just be able to make plays offensively and defensively.”
— Dennis Chambers (@DennisChambers_) June 17, 2017
Fox pointed out that he’s played with Simmons at the LeBron James Camp one summer and would love to play with him and big man Joel Embiid.
“It’s definitely intriguing,” he said. “Joel has such a big personality, they’re both great players. So, being able to play with those two is kind of like – you see people building through the draft and I feel like I’d be able to complement them well and they’re going to be two great young players in the league.”
Adam Zagoria is a basketball insider who has run ZAGSBLOG.com since 2006. He is a college basketball contributor for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the co-host of The Four Quarters Podcast via VSporto.com, which is available via iTunes. Zagoria is also a contributor to The New York Times. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children.
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