TheSportster.com

10 NBA Teams That Should Trade For Markelle Fultz And 10 That Should Stay Away

Such is the nature of the social and digital media age where a story can get beaten into the ground instantly through an endless surge of analysis, hot takes and then hot takes in response to those hot takes. The Markelle Fultz situation in Philadelphia stands as yet another product of that over-saturation, surely being covered to the point of exhaustion where most fans just want him traded already. But let's not lose sight of how crazy the Fultz saga has been - an uber-prospect out of Washington, the guard just turned 20 in May and is 18 months removed from going first overall to the Sixers, who had to trade a future first just to move up from No. 3 and get him. Since then, a shoulder ailment held him to just 14 games in his rookie season and has brought on curious on-going shooting troubles in year two that the player and the team vehemently disagree on.

That Fultz could be on the move so soon in such a promising career is fairly unprecedented, especially in modern basketball history. Anthony Bennett was dealt 14 months after being tabbed with the No. 1 pick in 2013, but that was part of the Kevin Love trade engineered by LeBron James and doesn't really count. Where Bennett's star potential was already in considerable doubt by the time he was traded, executives from across the league with an appetite for high-risk, high-reward plays will surely be checking in with Philly and rookie GM Elton Brand in hopes of nabbing a young player who hasn't scratched the surface of his potential.

Here are 10 destinations that make sense for the talented-but-beleaguered youngster and 10 clubs who would be better off staying away.

20 Go For It: San Antonio Spurs

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone seeing the current conflict between the 76ers and Fultz's camp may come to the conclusion that a pairing of the second-year guard and legendary Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich would be akin to oil and water. But as weird as Fultz-Gate has become in Philly, this still isn't an issue over the player's work ethic or ego. Whatever this issue might be, Fultz goes right back to being a threat as a scorer, playmaker and defender if/when he can get past the problems.

The Spurs, who have been left barren at the point after injuries to Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV, carry a well-established track record of developing point guards (Tony Parker, Patty Mills, Murray...) and could do wonders for both the game and confidence of Fultz.

19 Stay Away: Milwaukee Bucks

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Things are looking good in Milwaukee right now thanks to a hot start to the 2018-19 season, but that doesn't change what could be a tricky off-season as the Bucks continue in their efforts to build a contender around Giannis Antetokounmpo. Eric Bledsoe is an unrestricted free agent and Malcolm Brogdon is restricted, so the PG position will be priority number one, whether that means keeping their own guys or looking elsewhere. Fultz, however, probably isn't who they're looking for. While it may be tempting to develop another superstar alongside Giannis, their team is built to rely on backcourt shooters and likely won't have the patience to handle Fultz's growing pains.

18 Go For It: Boston Celtics

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

First things first: wouldn't it be a full-on savage move for Danny Ainge to try and acquire Fultz after making the wildly lopsided trade that saw him join the Sixers in the first place? For that reason, alone, Fultz to Boston is pretty fun to think about. While the Celtics are too good a team to wait on him as he takes his lumps in the pros, coach Brad Stevens could theoretically construct a guard rotation that accentuates the unique skill sets of Fultz, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart if Kyrie Irving bolts via free agency. That would be an awful lot of young talent in one back court.

17 Stay Away: Minnesota Timberwolves

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

At season's end, Jeff Teague can opt out, Derrick Rose will be a free agent and Tyus Jones will be restricted, thus potentially leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves bereft at the point guard spot. But while a third No. 1 overall pick to go with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns would be marketable, it's probably the last thing needed in Minnesota.

After all, they just dealt with Philly to get out from under another circus with Jimmy Butler. Maybe former teammates and current T-Wolves Dario Saric and Robert Covington would have nice things to say about Fultz, but the Wolves and owner Glen Taylor probably don't have much of an appetite for more potential in-house drama.

16 Go For It: Miami Heat

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Another team, another lingering free agent dilemma at the point guard spot. If Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson decline their player options at season's end, the Heat could find themselves in need of some help at the one. And Fultz actually makes some sense. With Pat Riley at the helm and Erik Spoelstra on the bench, the Heat have an infrastructure in place to help him work through whatever might be ailing his shot.

They've already managed to maintain locker room harmony among their current group with temperamental personalities like Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and James Johnson. And with no disrespect intended to Dwyane "One Last Dance" Wade, the franchise hasn't had a true buzz-worthy star in South Beach since LeBron left.

15 Stay Away: Detroit Pistons

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Dwane Casey is already making his mark in Motown, despite having a mostly inherited roster that he had no personal say in. The hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach had his greatest success with Kyle Lowry at the point in Toronto, so he probably isn't loving an offense run through a ball-dominant, passive defender in Reggie Jackson. But even if a move is forthcoming involving Jackson, Fultz probably isn't the guy to take over.

Sure, his reputation as an elite passer would be enhanced with offensive weapons like Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond on hand, but does a veteran Pistons team with a veteran coach really have the patience to let Fultz develop? He'd represent a pretty stark shift from Jackson, which may or may not be what Detroit is looking for.

14 Go For It: Atlanta Hawks

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Before you say "what about Trae Young?", let me make my argument here. Both Young and Fultz offer versatility in their guard roles, with the Hawks rookie never hesitating to pull the trigger on a shot and the injury-plagued Sixer spending most of his on-court time in Philly at the two-guard spot. The two youngsters would need to prove they can play together, but a rebuilding Atlanta side can afford them the time to try to mesh.

Sure, it could signal the end of Kent Bazemore's tenure in the ATL, but the 29-year-old probably wants to win now, while an inexperienced core of Fultz, Young, John Collins and any other forthcoming lottery picks would be a core harvested with a focus squarely on the future.

13 Stay Away: Washington Wizards

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It won't be easy, but you have to figure the Wizards and GM Ernie Grunfeld are looking for a way out from under the immovable John Wall extension. After all, the club is in shambles and Wall hasn't led the Wiz to much as a franchise player. If they do jumpstart a rebuild by unloading the five-time All-Star (or Bradley Beal or Otto Porter Jr.), it would be easy to consider them as a potential landing spot for Fultz. However, the last thing Fultz needs is to wind up in a drama-filled locker room.

Washington probably doesn't have much of interest to offer the Sixers anyway (Kelly Oubre Jr.?), so mercifully for Fultz's future prospects, this trade wouldn't be easy to coordinate. If a trade is in the works, let's hope the 2017 top dog can move to an environment that is actually conducive to his development.

12 Go For It: Charlotte Hornets

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Hornets currently boast the NBA's highest-scoring point guard - so why would they ever be interested in Fultz? Kemba Walker's remarkable season hasn't spared Charlotte from being mediocre, just as the two-time All-Star has been unable to prevent two straight 36-win seasons and three of four years out of the playoffs. Walker has been a persistent subject of trade rumors, based on the notion that the club could look for a reset while using their biggest trade chip.

Fultz to Charlotte, then, would likely hinge on a Walker trade, which is another complicated matter entirely. That being said, Buzz City could probably use a little jolt. For as much as the club has struggled to stay relevant, they haven't really bottomed out either. Getting that type of high-ceiling potential would be a rare find in Charlotte.

11 Stay Away: Indiana Pacers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For now, the Pacers are merely focused on building upon last year's success and making their move in the Eastern Conference. Come this summer, however, the club will face a very different challenge off the court. Guards Darren Collison, Tyreke Evans and Cory Joseph are all part of a large group of pending UFA's for the Pacers, not all of which they are likely to retain. Still on his rookie deal, Fultz could represent a marginally cheaper and loftier potential option at the point than any of those three present, but that doesn't make it the right move.

Indy's surprising return to prominence has been driven by Victor Oladipo, but also by a well-established chemistry. Collison has been instrumental in facilitating that and the club will likely look to retain him. Less certain, however, is whether Fultz could sustain that same chemistry.

10 Go For It: Brooklyn Nets

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The steep price of the infamous Celtics trade has only just been paid off in full. Until now, the Nets, under the stewardship of GM Sean Marks, have been forced to get creative while trying to add young assets to a developing team without first round picks. By taking on bad contracts, the Nets were able to add first round picks that netted Jarrett Allen and Dzanan Musa, as well as former No. 2 overall pick D'Angelo Russell. A high-risk, high-reward play for Fultz, then, wouldn't veer too far outside of Brooklyn's playbook. And really, why not?

The club has little to lose at this point, without one firmly established star on the roster and having failed to win even 30 games in any of the past three seasons. Position-wise, Russell has been solid, but hasn't exactly cemented himself as the franchise guy, so some competition might be welcome.

9 Stay Away: Houston Rockets

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Daryl Morey is constantly dreaming up ways to tweak and improve his Rockets, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that he's placed a call to the Sixers regarding Fultz. While Houston happens to have a guy named Chris Paul manning the point, CP3 could surely use a viable backup seeing as how he's 33 and has missed over 45 games over the past two seasons. Eric Gordon has been handling point guard duties of late with Paul nursing a leg injury, but Gordon is playing out of position, hence the need for a ball handler.

Still, it's simply not fair to Fultz to throw him into a situation that comes with such lofty expectations, from stepping in for one of the game's best point guards to keeping James Harden happy to anchoring a struggling team with title aspirations.

8 Go For It: Chicago Bulls

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

There is no clear answer at the point right now in Chicago, where none of injury-plagued Kris Dunn, underwhelming Cameron Payne or the anonymous Ryan Arcidiacono have exactly taken the bull by the horns (pun intended) and seized the starting job. With the likes of Zach LaVine, the injured Lauri Markkanen, hometown boy Jabari Parker and rookie Wendell Carter all looking like part of the future core in the Windy City, there's certainly room to add a ball-handling building block alongside them.

Fultz fits the bill. He would have a high-volume scorer in LaVine beside him to ease some of the offensive pressure as his shooting stroke recovers and would match well with a roster that skews pretty young and may still be a few years away from contention.

7 Stay Away: Utah Jazz

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It was a great 2017-18 season in Utah, where the Jazz responded to the departure of franchise star Gordon Hayward with an unlikely run to the conference semifinals behind rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell. But Mitchell's rise to stardom hasn't entirely disguised the middling production that the Jazz have gotten at the point guard spot. Early this season, the struggles of Ricky Rubio, a pending free agent, and Dante Exum have contributed to a slow start for Utah, who ranks near the bottom of the league in both turnovers and points per game. But there is plenty of risk involved for a club built around Mitchell to fill their other backcourt spot with fellow 2017 draftee Fultz.

Just as the presence of Mitchell could help boost Fultz, the current Sixers' struggles could also serve to derail the production of Mitchell - and for that reason, it's just not worth the risk.

6 Go For It: Orlando Magic

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

How young are the Magic? At present time, they carry just two players on their roster on the north end of 30 - D.J. Augustin and Timofey Mozgov. This commitment to youth can be seen everywhere on the court, save for the point, where the 31-year-old Augustin currently holds the starter's job and backup Jerian Grant is probably better suited to remain on the bench. That's where Fultz could come in.

Even on one of the league's youngest teams, the point guard would still rank as the Magic's most fresh-faced player, with a birthday about two weeks later than rookie Mo Bamba. Not only would he have a chance to develop slowly alongside a complimentary core that includes Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon, but Orlando may be able to pique Philly's interest by offering talented big man Nikola Vucevic.

5 Stay Away: Toronto Raptors

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

No, Kyle Lowry, ironically a Philly native and Villanova product, isn't going anywhere. But even with the Raptors' starting point guard job on lock, the club has continued to demonstrate creative use of its ball handlers, finding significant roles for the likes of Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet even with Lowry on the floor. Could they be in position to add another versatile guard to the mix? In short, no. Forget the implausibility of Philadelphia sending Fultz to a division foe and rival contender.

The Raps are firmly in go-for-it mode with Kawhi Leonard sticking around for potentially just one season and don't need the distraction of a red flag-laden player on the roster. If the club enters into rebuilding mode this summer should they lose Leonard to free agency, then things could change.

4 Go For It: Los Angeles Clippers

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Is LA's other basketball team back to being the Clippers of old? We should find out soon enough. By the start of next season, we will know two things: if the Clips can sustain and unlikely start to the 2018-19 season that has them right in the mix at the top of the West; and how the club fares in what they hope will be an active free agency period.

The Clippers seem to be looking for the next attention-grabbing star (or stars) now that the Lob City era has ended. Before they chase the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler this summer, could Fultz move the needle? He would certainly upgrade a point guard spot currently held down by Patrick Beverly and rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

3 Stay Away: Sacramento Kings

Jeff Siwinger-USA TODAY Sports

There is only one team right now with enough cap space to absorb Fultz without having to send any money out. With a roster that boasts an average age of 25, the Kings benefit from having most players on a rookie-scale contract, making such an acquisition easy to facilitate. Not so fast, though. While you can never have enough young talent, the Kings seem to be progressing along nicely with their core, including point guard De'Aaron Fox.

Given how many years Sacramento has picked in the lottery, several of their prospects already carry lofty, Fultz-like potential. Rather than shipping out assets to bring in yet another inexperienced piece to incorporate into the plan, GM Vlade Divac should worry more about bringing along a skilled group that includes Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.

2 Go For It: Phoenix Suns

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Winding up in the desert may not seem like a particularly soft landing spot, but Fultz will find few better situations around the league for him than with the Suns. For starters, there is the Suns' current, pitiful point guard rotation, which sees Isaiah Canaan serving as the de facto lead guard while getting little competition from rookie Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton.

Even without a workable jumper, Fultz would likely still be the best of that bunch. Then, you also have a defined future core that the unhappy Sixer would fit perfectly into alongside his No. 1 overall successor Deandre Ayton, star shooting guard Devin Booker and talented wing T.J. Warren. It's unclear what it would take to get a deal done, but there have been reports that Phoenix has interest in making this potential fit a reality.

1 Stay Away: New York Knicks

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

On paper, Fultz as a New York Knick makes a lot of sense. The club could use more help at the point, where none of Frank Ntikilina, Emanuel Mudiay or Trey Burke have exactly wowed. They could also use more prospect high-ceiling talent in general, where Tim Hardaway Jr., rookie Kevin Knox, Ntikilina and an injured Kristaps Porzingis don't exactly leave fans dreaming of parades down Broadway.

In fact, I don't really have any concrete reason that Fultz, who New York had great interest in before the 2017 draft, couldn't thrive at Madison Square Garden. Except that it's the Knicks we're talking about. Not only would Fultz be wandering into a frenzy within the biggest media market in the world, but the haphazard organization hasn't established a reputation for properly handling personnel and getting the most out of their players.

More in NBA