Markelle Fultz available to play for 76ers after missing 68 games

PHILADELPHIA — 76ers rookie guard Markelle Fultz will return to action on Monday for the first time since Oct. 23, coach Brett Brown said in his pregame news conference before the 76ers face the Denver Nuggets.

“It was [Fultz]’s decision,” Brown said. “It’s been fluid and I get goose bumps telling you all that. I’m so proud of him. The people around him have done great things and I give that kid credit.”

An emotional Brown announced that the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, who has been sidelined for five months with a shoulder injury, will come off the bench as starting point guard Ben Simmons‘ backup. Brown said he expects Fultz to play about 14 minutes on Monday night.

“Initially, a drip feed,” Brown said. “It’s March. It’s Game 71. He’s 19. It needs to be an intelligent, realistic plan for him, and we’re all going to learn and see how this plays out. But it’s just fantastic news for him.”

Fultz was shut down by the 76ers four games into the regular season after struggling with his shot, a manifestation of the injury. Over the past several months, Fultz has sought to rebuild his mechanics with the help of both the Sixers coaching staff and his personal trainer.

There’s been a degree of intrigue surrounding Fultz’s timetable, with indefinite information on his return emanating from both the 76ers organization and Fultz’s camp. In February, 76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo told the media that Fultz was limited…