Philadelphia 76ers

Report: LeBron James doesn't want big team pitches in free agency

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Report: LeBron James doesn't want big team pitches in free agency

Welcome to the week of LeBron James, who has until Friday to elect for free agency or return to the Cleveland Cavaliers for $35.6 million.

While the Sixers are no longer the Vegas favorites to land LeBron, they certainly are positioning themselves to throw everything they possibly can at the superstar.

It turns out for the Sixers, just the money may be enough.

From ESPN's Ramona Shelburne:

"While James hasn't decided yet whether to pick up his player option, sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams.

James might meet or speak with a club official or owner at some point, but the elaborate presentations that have become common in NBA free agency over the years are unnecessary after 15 seasons in the league.

Should James become a free agent, league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare."

The LeBron-to-Philly speculation has run rampant throughout social media and Philadelphia during almost the 2017-18. There are enough breadcrumbs to put the Sixers into the category as likely destinations for the King.

At his end-of-season news conference, now Sixers interim GM and head coach Brett Brown said another "high-level free agent is required." Recently, Brown said they were star hunting.

"We don't have to turn this into calculus," Brown said May 11. "it's quite clear."

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NBA Awards 2018: Previewing Ben Simmons', Joel Embiid's chances, show start time, how to watch

NBA Awards 2018: Previewing Ben Simmons', Joel Embiid's chances, show start time, how to watch

All of Ben Simmons’ virtuoso passing, all of Joel Embiid’s vicious blocks and yes, all the petty sweatshirts have led to this moment.

The NBA Awards Show is tonight. Here’s everything you need to know as a Sixers fan.

What time does the show start?

The Awards Show, which will take place at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, will begin at 9 p.m. on TNT. The votes of the media members who decide the awards are already in — this is just the grand unveiling.

Which awards will be announced?

MVP, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player and Coach of the Year. All-NBAAll-Defensive and All-Rookie teams have already been announced. 

Which Sixers are nominated? Who’s their competition?

Simmons is one of three nominees for Rookie of the Year, along with Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum. Embiid is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. Anthony Davis and Rudy Gobert are his competition for the award.

They’re not going to snub Simmons, right?

We’ve already covered many of the reasons Simmons should win here — he has a very strong case.

But the Sixers don’t have a great recent history with this award. Last year, Malcolm Brogdon beat out Embiid and Dario Saric to claim the honor, and Sixers fans are probably never going to forgive him for it.

Still, it would be a real surprise if Simmons didn’t win. Outside of scoring, he holds the advantage over Mitchell in just about every statistical category you could imagine — rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, net rating, win shares, PER, etc. He also led his team to a 52-win season as a rookie point guard and had 12 regular-season triple-doubles, the second-most ever by a rookie.

In most other years, Mitchell, who averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, would be the clear winner, but Simmons should definitely have the edge over him.

Though Jayson Tatum was incredible in the playoffs, this is a regular season award, so he shouldn’t be a factor.

What are Embiid’s chances?

Well, Embiid has already shared his thoughts on the awards (see story). On Apr. 11, he had this to say:

It is what is, [the media] has a lot of say in it, but I think [Brett Brown] should be the Coach of the Year, Ben should be Rookie of the Year, and I should be the Defensive Player of the Year because I feel like all year long we’ve done it. My teammates have helped me a lot and I’m in this situation because of them. I give them a lot of credit. But I still feel like I’ve been the best defensive player in the league this year. Last year, I kind of had the knock on me of not playing a lot of games, but this year I’ve played a lot of games, so I don’t know what excuse they’re going to find next.

While Brown wasn’t nominated for Coach of the Year (Dwayne Casey, Quin Snyder and Brad Stevens are the finalists), Embiid does have a chance at Defensive Player of the Year. Unlike Simmons, however, he's not the clear favorite.

It’s not a great sign for Embiid that Gobert and Davis both made the NBA All-Defensive Team, while he did not.

Each player has a solid case. Davis led the leagues in blocks by a wide margin, with 183. Gobert has the advantage over both in defensive rating, defensive box plus-minus and defensive real plus-minus, and he anchored the team with the second-best defensive rating in the NBA. With Embiid on the floor, the Sixers allowed about four fewer points per 100 possessions than when he was out.

Ironically, if Embiid wins, one of the reasons might be that Gobert didn’t play enough games. Gobert only played in 56 regular-season games, missing significant time because of a left knee injury. Embiid played in 63 regular-season games.

When’s the last time a Sixer won Rookie of the Year? Defensive Player of the Year?

Michael Carter-Williams was the last Rookie of the Year for the Sixers, in 2013-14. Dikembe Mutombo won Defensive Player of the Year in 2001.

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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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