Hey, the Sixers Got Royce White for Basically Nothing!

Hey, the Sixers Got Royce White for Basically Nothing!

It wasn't the biggest headline from the day in basketball free agency--hell, it might not have been the fifth-biggest--but the Sixers did make a minor splash today in the midst of the Dwight Howard sweepstakes finally reaching a resolution. The Houston Rockets needed to make a little additional room on their books to give Dwight a max contract, so they shed a little salary by shipping 2012 first-round pick Royce White to the Sixers. In return, the Rockets get "future considerations," which, uh...we'll get back to you on that.

Royce White is fairly famous around the basketball world for a second-year player who's never played a game in the NBA. White gained a good deal of attention last year for his struggles with anxiety, including a fear of flying, which led to him having issues with the Rockets and fighting to have his own doctor outside of the team to treat him and determine when he was in condition to play. White also has a sort of ambivalent attitude about the NBA in general, occasionally alluding to the possibility of him never even playing in the NBA, the idea of which he's supposedly mostly OK with.

All these issues aside, when White is on the court, he has a skill set unlike few players on the league. As a strong 6'9" forward with post moves and incredible passing skills--White averaged five assists a game in college, and posted one of the only triple-doubles of the NCAA season--he had the talent to be a top-five player in the '12 draft, though due to reasonable worry over his off-court issues, he slipped to #16. (Just one year after that draft, he's still the only first-rounder of his class still yet to play a minute as a pro). Royce's D-League stats in 16 games were decent--11 points, six boards and three assists in 26 minutes a game--but his upside at just 22 would suggest eventual contributions much greater than that.

Of course, chances are pretty good that he never plays a minute for the Sixers, either. The issues he had with the Rockets (and you can read more about his take on them in this pretty awesome Chuck Klosterman interview from Grantland), he'll still have with the Sixers, and though Sixers GM (and former Houston assist GM) Sam Hinkie seems to have a good relationship with White (based on this tweet, anyway), that doesn't things will go any different with his second team than his first. Not to mention that his conditioning might not be particularly top notch--he told Klosterman in that interview that "I work out very sparingly, to be honest...I probably shoot once a week."

But of course, the good news about all this risk with White is that if he doesn't pan out even a little, it doesn't cost the Sixers anything. The "future considerations" won't be anything of terrible import, and all they're paying White this season is 1.7 million, and possibly another 1.8 next year if they decide to pick up his option. If he pans out and gives the Sixers anything, great, if not, he wasted little money and space on a team that isn't trying particularly hard to win games anyway. It's an upside play, and even if it's a low-percentage play as such--and let's be honest, Rockets GM Daryl Morey isn't normally in the business of giving away valuable assets for nothing, even to an old war room buddy like Hinkie, so that's probably not a great sign for White's future prospects--it's worth it considering the minimal expenditure.

Two other things worth noting: First, the Sixers also picked up another prospect in this trade, in Turkish power forward Furkan Aldemir, a 21-year-old second-round pick of the Clippers in 2012. Aldemir is a big-bodied defense-and-rebounding type, who played last year in the Turkish and Euroleagues and averaged low points but high shooting percentages. He also may never make it to the Sixers, but between him and Arsalan Kazemi, the Sixers' own second-rounder in this year's draft, we can only hope we have at least one future Reggie Evans on our squad now.

Second thing: The Sixers nearly played a part in helping a different team make space for Dwight Howard today, as the team was rumored to be involved in the Golden State Warriors' extreme salary dump, in which they were packaging the expiring mega-deals of Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins along with first-round picks to any teams willing to pick up the expenses. They found a different taker for those in the Utah Jazz, but these deals are a good example of the type the Sixers could potentially look to soon as a way to use their cap space to build for the future, acquiring picks to essentially rent their salary flexibility to other teams in more desperate situations. (By the way, when they missed out on Dwight, the Warriors committed that cap space to our old friend Andre Iguodala. Best of luck out on the West Coast, 'Dre.)

Busy day for the Sixers, and an even bigger one for the NBA. And Summer League begins on Sunday! It's like the season never even ended.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).