Royce White didn’t fly with Sixers to Europe

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Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are in one of the world’s most interesting cities, Bilbao, Spain. From there they will travel on to Manchester, England, (which is kind of interesting) to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Royce White is not with them.

White battles an general anxiety disorder — which has a number of symptoms, among them a fear of flying — and while he said he wanted to go to Europe with the team the team let him stay, coach Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It really was just based on our team doctor giving me and Sam (Henkie, Sixers GM) and the club advice that it may be best for him to remain at home,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of White’s absence. “You know we are with him. We will support and help him.”

This is well handled by the Sixers — is the anxiety and distraction of some very long flights really worth it to have him suit up for preseason games? No.

Every time I write about White the comments and my twitter timeline fill up with “just get on the plane” lines from people who lack either understanding or empathy (both of which are kind of sad). White is battling a recognized mental illness, there are legitimate concerns. Yes, he has been brash in talking about how the league doesn’t help players like him but rather treats them as replaceable parts — and he’s not wrong about that. This can be a cold business. But his style has not won over the casual basketball fan,  and the only way he’s ever really get leverage in this fight is to get on the court and perform well.

We’ll see if that ever happens. In the end, the NBA’s travel-heavy lifestyle and White just may not be able to mesh.

I think the Sixers are handling this well. Give him space and time, have him at training camp and see how it works. Don’t push him into a long flight to Spain.

Philadelphia brought him in with limited expectations, if it works out great if not they save money when they let his contract expire. White is a 6’8” guy with the skills to potentially play some point forward, and he had moments where he looked good for the Rockets’ D-League affiliate (he averaged 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a game).

Hopefully we’ll get to see him in some NBA preseason action this season to start. Then we’ll see what’s next.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.