It could be a while until we see Markelle Fultz back out on the floor.

Fultz was shut down indefinitely with soreness and scapular muscle imbalance in his right shoulder by the Sixers late last month, to be reevaluated again in three weeks. While optimistic hope is that he will be good to go – sweet stroke back and all – by then, the reality is that his stint on the sideline could last a lot longer than three weeks.

Here’s Dr. David Chao* – former head team physician for the San Diego Chargers and an orthopedic consultant for the NBA - on Fultz’s shoulder situation, via the San Diego Tribune:

“It would be unusual if three weeks of physical therapy could solve Fultz’s problems. It is more likely the Sixers just want him headed in the right direction in three weeks.

Don't be surprised if Fultz is seen wearing a special shirt with straps to help stabilize and train the scapula, much like a special knee or ankle brace.”

Many pointed to the fact that there was no structural damage to the shoulder as a silver lining in the situation, but the lack of structural damage doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility of surgery.

Again from Chao:

“No surgery is planned. But that doesn’t mean he won’t have surgery at some point.

At this point, all that has happened is that a name has been assigned to the problem. The problem hasn't been fixed yet.

First, the Sixers will evidently continue with a further trial of conservative care and physical therapy…It can be corrected with therapy, but surgery is not out of the question.”

For now, it is a wait-and-see situation for the Sixers, who will obviously know more when the shoulder is reevaluated in the coming weeks. But – considering the nature of the injury, the team’s history of patience when it comes to injury issues, and Fultz’s overall import to the franchise’s future – an extended absence for Fultz is a possibility to prepare for.

*It is worth pointing out that Chao has a somewhat checkered past, so take what he says with a grain of salt if you wish.

Follow Michael Kaskey-Blomain on Twitter @therealmikekb.

Dr. Kevin McHale from Cape Regional Health System talks about Markelle Fultz's shoulder injury. 

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