Interesting new odds on LeBron James' free agency destination, next season's Rookie of the Year

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Interesting new odds on LeBron James' free agency destination, next season's Rookie of the Year

Brett Brown is "star hunting." He's not naming names, but it's clear that LeBron James is at the top of his (and everybody's) list.

Until free agency officially starts on July 1, there's going to be plenty of speculation about whether the Sixers can actually land James. Bovada's latest odds on which team James will be playing for in Game 1 of the 2018-19 season don't give the Sixers a great shot.

The Lakers are now strong favorites, at 4/13. That's presumably because Spurs star Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants out of San Antonio and would like to return to his hometown of Los Angeles, specifically with the Lakers. Though the Spurs have said they want to keep Leonard if possible and reports are they don't want to trade him to a team in the Western Conference, the Lakers would definitely be a much more enticing option for James if they managed to get Leonard. 

The Sixers have the fourth-best odds, which are listed in full below.

What team will LeBron James play for Game 1 of the 2018-2019 Season?
Los Angeles Lakers                   4/13
Cleveland Cavaliers                   13/4
Houston Rockets                      15/2
Philadelphia 76ers                     10/1
Boston Celtics                          18/1
San Antonio Spurs                    20/1
Los Angeles Clippers                25/1                                           
New York Knicks                       30/1
Miami Heat                                40/1

2018-19 Rookie of the Year Odds

This season's Rookie of the Year hasn't even been announced yet. We'll know Monday night whether Ben Simmons brings home the award. But the odds for next season's Rookie of the Year are already out, and one of the newest Sixers, first-round pick Zhaire Smith, appears on Bovada's odds.

Unsurprisingly, Smith, who has a lot of room to grow (see story), is a long shot. The No. 16 selection has 45/1 odds to win. No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton has the best odds at 13/5, followed by the Mavs' Luka Doncic and the Kings' Marvin Bagley III. Mikal Bridges has 22/1 odds, while fellow Villanova product and new Milwaukee Buck Donte DiVincenzo makes an appearance at 40/1.

The complete odds are below.

2018-2019 NBA Rookie of the Year – Odds to Win
Deandre Ayton                          13/5
Luka Doncic                              3/1
Marvin Bagley                           9/2
Trae Young                               7/1
Jaren Jackson Jr                       9/1
Mohamed Bamba                      11/1
Kevin Knox                               15/1
Michael Porter Jr                       15/1
Mikal Bridges                            22/1
Collin Sexton                            22/1
Miles Bridges                            28/1
Wendell Carter Jr                       28/1
Donte DiVincenzo                     40/1
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander          40/1
Zhaire Smith                              45/1
Lonnie Walker                           50/1
Robert Williams                         50/1

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Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

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Trainer Drew Hanlen says Markelle Fultz's new shot is 'ahead of pace' after case of 'yips'

Since Markelle Fultz arrived at Sixers training camp last season, there has been a mystery surrounding what exactly happened to his pure jumper that was last publically seen at the 2017 summer league.

This week, trainer Drew Hanlen, who has been working with the former No. 1 overall pick in an effort to rework his shot, joined the Talking Schmidt Podcast  and was the first person around Fultz to put a name to what has been speculated to have caused his broken shot: "the yips."

"With Markelle, obviously, he had one of the most documented case of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years," Hanlen said, "where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot."

There's no need to take a speculatory deep dive back into Fultz's weird rookie season. Regardless of whether it was the yips, a shoulder injury, a combination, changing the shot, or any other reason; it already happened. He lost that awesome jumper he had coming out of Washington, a shot that had a huge factor in the Sixers spending a valuable future asset in the Kings' 2019 first-rounder to trade up two spots and select him in last year's draft.

The more notable thing here is that Fultz is working to get it back and is using a popular trainer in Hanlen, who works with numerous NBA players, including Joel Embiid. 

And if you're starving for some Fultz jumpshot optimism, Hanlen delivered some:

For me, it was hey listen 'how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year's draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, or if not better?' We've been working hard everyday, working on rewiring his body and getting kind of a smooth stroke back in his shot. We're way ahead of pace where I thought we were gonna be. I thought it was gonna take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot. We already started to shoot with a jump in Week 2.

It's not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he'll be back rolling and he'll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I do give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him that I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.

Perfect by the end of the summer? Forget summer league, I think every Sixers fan will be fine signing up for just that. Hanlen, who has worked with Tatum dating back to before last year's draft, didn't reveal whether Fultz approached him about a complete rebuild or just adjustments, but he did describe the light-hearted conversation he had with the Sixers' guard before they started working together:

I knew (Markelle) because of Joel. Obviously, I spend a lot of time in Philadelphia working with Joel. Basically what I told him is, me being me, I said, 'Markelle listen, you're going to make me really famous and you're going to make me a lot of money when I fix your shot and can sell your program. And the good news is, I can't go down because it can't get worse.' So I said, 'Give me a chance, let me help you get back to who you are.'

He kind of laughed and chuckled and I said, 'Let's do this.' For two reasons: One, I wanna get you back rolling. I wanna get you back kind of loving basketball and finding success. And two, I wanna arrogantly be able to tell everybody, yeah, that's me right there I fixed it. We took a kind of funny approach to get rolling, but we've been working hard every single day. We spend a couple hours in the gym. So far the program is going well and he's finding some success with the new shooting motion.

If Fultz shows up to training camp with a reworked, reliable shot, Hanlen would become a legend in Philly.

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Phillies agree to terms with veteran infielder

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Phillies agree to terms with veteran infielder

A reinforcement is coming.

After recent injuries that sent infielders J.P. Crawford and Pedro Florimon to the disabled list with a fractured left hand and a fractured right foot, respectively, the Phillies have been looking for some temporary help for the big-league club.

Friday, the team agreed to terms with veteran infielder Danny Espinosa, who will report to Triple A Lehigh Valley in the coming days.

Espinosa, 31, has appeared in 872 career games over eight years in the majors, most notably with the Washington Nationals, with a career slash of .221/.297/.378. Espinosa started 2018 in Triple A in the Toronto Blue Jays' system before being released and signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers and being assigned to their Triple A team in Oklahoma City. He was released again on May 30 after hitting just .150 in 60 at-bats.

While the production at the plate has been underwhelming, especially this year, Espinosa is a quality defensive player who can play every position in the infield. He provides a veteran presence as a short-term fix and profiles better in that role than the next-best option, Mitch Walding, who struck out in each of his seven at-bats with the Phillies entering Friday.

Espinosa won’t be asked to do much, but if he can provide some relief for Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery, while hitting the odd home run and playing reliable defense, he will be a welcome quick-fix until the team regains its health.

In a corresponding move, LHP Zac Curtis was recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley. Curtis has a 3.38 ERA in four appearances this season with the Phillies.