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.

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons spending his summer getting bigger and better

Ben Simmons repeatedly emphasized at summer league he wanted to work on “everything” leading up to training camp.

As a point-forward who plays multiple positions, he has more than just one role to address this offseason. But what does “everything” entail? With a wide range of responsibilities on the court, Simmons is honing in on specific areas.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

Shooting
Simmons has been criticized for his reluctance to shoot. During his one season of college ball at LSU, he averaged 19.2 points off 11.7 field goal attempts per game (56 percent made). Over six summer league games (including both Utah and Las Vegas), Simmons took 22 field-goal attempts and shot 32.2 percent. He had less than 10 attempts in four of the games, and attempted 15 in the Sixers’ finale. Simmons attempted one three in summer league action.

While in Utah and Las Vegas, the Sixers encouraged Simmons to be more aggressive. At 6-foot-10, Simmons is able to get to the rim. Once there, many times he passes it off rather than finishing himself. The Sixers don’t expect Simmons to become a 30-point-per-game scorer, but he will be a key part of their offense.

“You always want him to be as good of a shooter as he can be,” Las Vegas summer league head coach Lloyd Pierce said this earlier month. “It’s not going to be his strength. His strength is going to be passing, facilitating, playmaking. That’s going to be an added bonus, whatever the percentage or the number is.”

Dribbling
Simmons averaged 5.5 assists per game during summer league (second on the team by 0.3 dimes to T.J McConnell). Conversely, he committed 3.83 turnovers.

The Sixers signed two point guards this summer, Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, and McConnell is returning from last season. Head coach Brett Brown said after the draft he does not plan to utilize Simmons as the primary one-guard right away as the 20-year-old learns the league. But early on, Simmons will have the rock in his hands plenty of times given his natural ball-handling abilities, especially when grabbing the rebound and running the fast break.

"I think it's the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown previously said. “I think to just give him the ball in that capacity is borderline cruel. He needs to feel NBA basketball. And maybe he evolves there." (See story)

Weight room
After college, Simmons put on 20 pounds from his training and entered the draft at 242 pounds. He stood out among the competition in summer league play with his NBA-ready stature. Simmons said he would like to get up to 246 or 247 pounds this offseason.

“Not too heavy,” he said.

With the size of a forward and the skills of a guard, the Sixers will be able to utilize Simmons to create mismatches both in the backcourt and at the hoop.

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's Lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

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Associated Press

Temple football announces future series with Boston College and Duke

Temple football starts its training camp next week, but the Owls have made another splash in the future scheduling department. This time, the opponents come from the ACC.

The program announced Friday it has agreed to future series with Boston College (2018 at BC and 2021 in Philadelphia) and Duke (2022 in Cameron, North Carolina and 2023 in Philadelphia). Temple also announced a game with Bucknell in Philadelphia in 2019 announced dates for previously confirmed future matchups with Maryland and Rutgers and 2017's season opener at Notre Dame.

The Boston College series is intriguing because it will be the renewal of an annual series from when the programs used to meet every year in Big East conference play. The Eagles hold a 28-7-2 all-time advantage over the Owls. Temple's last win against Boston College came in 1999 when the Owls earned a 24-14 victory. Of course, the matchup will be even juicier if former Temple head coach Steve Addazio is still leading Boston College in two years. But with the way the program floundered to a 3-9 record, earned just one win against an FCS program and went winless in ACC play last season and doesn't have a bright outlook this season, don't hold your breath that Addazio will be there.

The Owls have never met the Dukies on the gridiron.

Temple's non-conference slate this season includes home dates against Army (Sept. 2), Stony Brook (Sept. 10) and Charlotte (Sept. 24) and a visit to in-state rival Penn State (Sept. 17).

Friday's announcements come on the heels of an announcement earlier this month that confirmed Temple will play a three-game set with national powerhouse Oklahoma. That series is set to start in 2024.

Below is a list of dates for Temple's future games against non-conference opponents:
2017 – at Notre Dame - Sept. 2, vs. Villanova - Sept. 9, vs. UMass  - Sept. 16, at Army - Oct. 21
2018 – vs. Villanova -  Sept. 1, vs. Buffalo - Sept. 8, at Maryland - Sept. 15, at Boston College - Sept. 29
2019 – vs. Bucknell - Aug. 31, vs. Maryland - Sept. 14, at Buffalo - Sept. 21), vs. Army - Oct. 26
2020 – vs. Idaho - Sept. 12, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 19
2021 – at Rutgers - Sept. 4, vs. Boston College - Sept. 18
2022 – at Duke - Sept. 3, vs. Rutgers - Sept. 17
2023 – at Rutgers - Sept. 9, vs. Duke - Sept. 16
2024 - at Oklahoma - Aug. 31
2025 - vs. Oklahoma - Sept. 13
2028 - at Oklahoma - Sept. 2