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Hey, the Sixers Got Royce White for Basically Nothing!

Jul 6, 2013, 12:21 AM EDT

NBA: Preseason-Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets

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.

  1. nyphilsphan - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    I think it’s safe to say he’s immediately the most talented PF on the team. Of course, that isn’t saying much, but this kid has the skills to be a top 15 PF in this league. Whether or not he ever pans out is no longer the Rockets problem, it’s ours.

    But, this isn’t much of a problem to have in an obvious tank year: we can afford to let him dictate the terms of his roster spot, and let him work through his issues while he plays pro-ball. If it works out: we get a player who can play more than half of the games who might be a force with the possibility to become an every day player if he gets the right treatment- then, we’ll have give up some assets; if it doesn’t work out: we cut our losses and trade the rockets a bag of basketballs.

    Hard for even the most of posters to be negative about this.

  2. Paul - Jul 6, 2013 at 2:34 AM

    This move had to be Houston’s last middle finger to Royce White. They sent the most psychologically fragile player in the league to possibly the most intolerable press environment in the NBA. UPENN’s entire psychiatric ward staff might as well be on call 24/7 for the Sixers this year. I hope he pans out and becomes a star for this team but its going to be a tough two years for this kid. Wish I could make a cool 5 mil plus for being paranoid.

    • Steve - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:12 PM

      Go get ‘em Paul!

  3. icdogg - Jul 6, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    Craig Ferguson got over his fear of flying by learning how to fly a plane himself. It enabled him to understand flying better and made him more willing to trust pilots of aircraft once he understood what exactly it is that they do.

    Not saying it would work for this kid but I think it’s an interesting approach. What if what he’s really afraid of is that the aircraft is out of his control and he does not understand how it works?

  4. Jason Radcliff. - Jul 6, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    Not expecting the “high reward” part of this low risk move to pan out, but if you’re not looking to win games, might as well add a guy that doesn’t give a sh*t about winning games or even playing, I guess…? It’s essentially a D-League team and they’re one of a few teams in the league that could say “fck it, only dress for home games, who the hell cares”? A unique situation to be sure, but really they need to go the minor league baseball sideshow route to drum up support anyway. Whatever helps ya lose!

  5. Mike - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    They should have his brother Bob take him to Tijuana. They can go to a brothel. Royce can then get screwed, blued and tattooed. Then an old man will feed him some snake meat. The old man will give him a charm that will allow him to fly. Just make sure Royce brings the charm when he goes on tour with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper.

  6. Sami - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    Basically For Nothing? We have nobody that the Rockets want from us anyway. They trade him bcuz the guy is a joke. What’s the point bringing him if he can’t play in away games. Plz somebody remind him he ain’t a baby anymore. Scared of a Air Plain what a douchebag.

    • nyphilsphan - Jul 6, 2013 at 7:03 PM

      Yup, cuz this is the piece the front office thinks will push us to a championship this season. Good thing they have you to set them straight.

    • rajplayscoy - Jul 7, 2013 at 9:47 PM

      “Scared of a Air Plain what a douchebag.” Hello Pot! Meet Mr. Kettle.

  7. Sami likes 8===D - Jul 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Almost as douchey as a guy who spells airplane as Air Plain.

  8. Hannibal Smith - Jul 6, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    They need to treat him like the A team treated Mr. T. Royce ain’t getting on no plane. The sixers need to drug his milk and drag him on board the team flight


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