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.

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

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AP Images

Instant Replay: Phillies 3, Marlins 2

BOX SCORE

Jeremy Hellickson gave the Phillies six more quality innings Thursday, and he and reliever Pat Neshek each struck out Giancarlo Stanton in big run-scoring situations to help the Phils to a two-game sweep and their sixth straight win.

The Phillies didn't do much hitting on the afternoon but took advantage of opportunities with runners in scoring position to claim the 3-2 win.

They are 11-9 as they hit the road for a tough, seven-game trip against the Dodgers and Cubs.

The Marlins are 10-10.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson encountered some traffic in three different innings but was able to pitch his way out of trouble. He allowed one run on seven hits over six innings with no walks and one strikeout.

It's the second straight start he hasn't walked a batter, and he's issued just three in 30 innings this season.

Hellickson continues to get outs without striking anyone out. His only K of the afternoon, though, was clutch — it came against Stanton with nobody out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning.

The fourth inning was the turning point of Hellickson's outing and really the game. Runners were on first and third with Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto coming up. Hellickson struck out Stanton, got Ozuna to pop up and Realmuto to line out, all on changeups. 

The Marlins are 7 for 54 (.130) against Hellickson's changeup since the start of last season.

Through five starts, Hellickson is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. His trade value continues to rise, as does his importance to this pitching staff.

For the Marlins, Edinson Volquez missed the strike zone plenty but gave up only three runs (two earned) over 5⅔ innings. He walked four batters for the third straight start.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek inherited a jam in the seventh and allowed a run to score but retired Martin Prado and Stanton to end the threat. 

Neshek is a real weapon in the bullpen because of his funky delivery and unorthodox repertoire. He's already made big bats like Yoenis Cespedes and Stanton look silly this season. It pays to have different looks out of the back end of your bullpen.

Joaquin Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts. He's put just two men on base in five scoreless innings since being moved back to the eighth inning.

Hector Neris needed just seven pitches to earn his third save in as many chances.

At the plate
The Phillies didn't have many hits but were able to push runs across when they had men in scoring position. Freddy Galvis tripled and scored in the third inning, and Brock Stassi tripled in an insurance run in the sixth.

Galvis enjoys himself some Volquez — lifetime, he's 6 for 10 with two doubles, a triple and a homer off him.

It was Stassi's first career triple.

Maikel Franco reached base three more times with two singles and a walk. Franco has been locked in over the last week, going 10 for 23 with a double, two homers, 10 RBIs, three walks and just one strikeout over his last six games. His batting line has crept up to .221/.291/.403. Not great, but it was .148/.217/.278 a week ago.

And this is a little thing, but Andrew Knapp, batting eighth, had two quality plate appearances his first two times up, singling and walking with nobody on and two outs to turn the lineup over twice.

Phillie-killers silenced
Prado has more hits against the Phillies than he has against any other team. And he did have a solo homer Wednesday night, but the .305 lifetime hitter off the Phils went just 2 for 8 in the series. It's key to get him out ahead of Yelich and Stanton.

Ozuna, meanwhile, went 0 for 8 in the series. He entered as a .310 hitter against the Phillies and a .272 hitter vs. the rest of the division.

In the field
Trying quickly to turn a double play on Odubel Herrera in the first inning, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon made an errant throw to first base that trickled past Justin Bour and allowed Daniel Nava to score. It was a heads-up baserunning play by Nava, who would have just advanced from second to third if not for Gordon's throw.

Franco made a tough play on a short-hop off the bat of Ozuna in a key spot with one out and Stanton on second base in the sixth inning. It was an all-or-nothing play — had Franco not timed the hop perfectly with his backhand, it would have put Hellickson in a jam.

On the bases
On consecutive pitches to Franco in the first inning, Herrera stole second and was then thrown out at third by a pretty good margin. The Phillies challenged that Prado didn't apply the tag but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.

Herrera is 3 for 5 on stolen base attempts this season.

Health check
Reliever Edubray Ramos was removed in the seventh inning after taking a line drive off the elbow.

Up next
The Phillies head out West for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium and it looks like they'll avoid Clayton Kershaw after all. He was initially scheduled to pitch Sunday but here are the updated pitching probables:

Friday night at 10:10 — Jerad Eickhoff (0-1, 2.55) vs. Kenta Maeda (1-2, 8.05)

Saturday night at 9:10 — Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) vs. Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25)

Sunday afternoon at 4:10 — Nick Pivetta (MLB debut) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64)

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

NFL Draft Experience is open and bumping with Carson Wentz the early star

The fans lined up early on Thursday in Philadelphia waiting for the NFL Draft Experience to open up at noon and there was actually a pretty exciting vibe while waiting in line, complete with Eagles chants. There have been plenty of Eagles chants. Expect that to be a theme throughout the weekend.

None more so than when Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz made an appearance. I first saw him drive by on a golf cart -- or a Wentz Wagon if you will -- while he was making his way to take photos with fans. A pretty exciting scene for any Eagles fan, I must say. Probably the highlight of the day so far.

He apparently messed with a Cowboys fan as well. Nicely done, Carson.

The weather in Philly is quite warm today with temps in the 80s. You'll get a good little sweat going if you decide to wait in line and participate in the 40-yard dash like I did. Running 40 yards is exhausting. And you'll have to wait a good bit to get your turn. Early on lines were maybe 20-30 minutes to participate in a drill, but they've since grown longer. Expect long lines for all of the activities today.So expect plenty of waiting if you want to try your legs at a vertical jump test or field goal kicking opportunity. After waiting probably 30 minutes, I got my two kicks up on the goal posts and will not be drafted by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Kicking is tough.

There are water filling stations if you've got a bottle to put it in. Those come in handy on such a warm day.

The beer is flowing as well. At many concession stands and also at the Draft Tavern. There are plenty of options as long as you like Budweiser products. They've got some IPA they make, some Stella, a Vienna Lager, a Pilsner, and all the usual suspects. Expect to pay about $12 for a 25-ounce can.

There's a plethora of food options from relatively cheap $5 hot dogs to $12 cheesesteaks. I tried out the cheesesteak from Tony Luke's and have to say I was very disappointed. When the worker handed it to me, I literally asked, "is this hot?" To which she said, "The bread isn't but the steak is." It wasn't. So I paid $12 for a cold cheesesteak I'd give a grade of a 'C-.' It could have been a 'B-' if it was moderately warm. It had no seasoning. But there was cheese on it and cheese is pretty hard to mess up. And the roll was fresh at least. I only ate half of it so that'll tell you what I really thought of it.

You can get pretty close to the draft stage and "NFL Draft Theater" without actually having a ticket. Check out the view from the public area:

The zip line looks fun but again, expect a lengthy wait.

This guy wins the day.

You can get a t-shirt for 35 bucks too.

The crowd right before the gates opened. 

Inside the Draft Tavern. You can enjoy a beverage anywhere inside whole Draft Experience.