The Royce White Saga Continues

A little over a month ago, I wrote a quick bit about why teams were smart to pass up on drafting Royce White. But I also noted, along with many others, that I wanted Royce to succeed. However, that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, the Rockets, with no playing time available for him or fellow rookie Donatas Motiejunas, planned to send both to the D-League (along with guard Scott Machado). Royce, apparently, hasn’t reacted well. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:

With the Rockets planning to send White along with fellow rookies Scott Machado and Donatas Motiejunas to the NBA Development League, White skipped Monday’s game and Tuesday’s practice amid signs that he has not practiced for days.

Rockets acting coach Kelvin Sampson said he did not know why White did not attend Tuesday’s practice and did not speak with him on Monday when Motiejunas and Machado were told of the plans to send them to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Meanwhile, White refuted that the Rockets had no knowledge about his absence, via a statement he released (and via David Aldridge, who published highlights of it on his twitter account). White says the Rockets know exactly what’s going on, and they aren’t being helpful or forthcoming:

As you already know, White suffers from an anxiety disorder which prevents him from flying to most games. But his anxiety issues may also arise for other reasons. For instance, while not confirmed, anxiety troubles and straightening out his travel accommodations led to White missing much of training camp. Again: this is the “baggage” that comes with drafting a high risk/high reward player like White. What will happen is not simple.

But the real question is: why is Royce White going to the media for this? While Feigen speculated (and teammates confirmed) that Royce had been missing practices, they only offered supportive comments and advice. They noted what Houston media had suspected for a few days, but resisted throwing a teammate whose condition they likely have little understanding of under the bus. Again: what is the problem that prompted Royce to send out a statement defying his team?

The only person who denied knowing what had been going on with White was interim head coach Kelvin Sampson. Sampson, replacing Kevin McHale for the time being (who currently is attending to a serious family matter), mentioned he wasn’t sure what was going on with White. When reporters asked Daryl Morey, he issued a statement essentially saying they had no comment on his missing practice but are committed to White. White apparently disagrees with this notion. But why? Did the Rockets renege on their deal? Have they insulted him by sending him down to the D-League? By keeping the matter private, did they somehow offend him? Who knows. I certainly don’t, and I’m in no position to pass judgment.

No matter his rationale, Royce White’s approach to his NBA career so far won’t endear him to many. Much of that approach is out of his control. But today’s statement wasn’t. It was pointed at the Houston organization. It blamed them for not providing him a chance to have a successful start to his career, even though they’ve allowed him to miss practices and training camp without much fanfare and have made an agreement to arrange for alternative travel arrangements. White obviously needs concessions for his condition, but the Rockets have openly made efforts to assist him. The Rockets also drafted him and signed him to a multi-million dollar deal. From the outside, they have been nothing but supportive.

Moreover, White’s timing couldn’t have been worse. His team’s coach is on indefinite leave, as he spends time in Minnesota with his daughter who, according to Ernie Johnson, became very ill over the weekend. It comes as he receives a D-League demotion, with his teammates gladly accepting the changes. It comes when a fellow talented rookie who plays his position in Terrence Jones struggled to get more than a minute or two of playing time. But Jones played during all of training camp and hasn’t missed many practices, if any at all.

Everything here, then, makes me re-consider my position that Houston, despite the geographical challenges, was a nice place for him. The rapid roster change, the coaching situation, and the limited playing time certainly work against him. But I have to wonder whether there’s a team out there where does fit at this point, because so far the Royce White era in Houston has been a disaster.

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One Response to The Royce White Saga Continues

  1. Reblogged this on 76 Degrees and commented:

    Over at Hoop City, I offer my thoughts on the evolving Royce White sage. Enjoy!

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