The exciting young Royce White took another step in the wrong direction recently, and this time it's been more than just missing a few days of training camp.
White, who has yet to see the floor this season for the Rockets and has spent most of his time on the inactive list, is to be sent down to Houston's Rio Grande Valley Vipers D-League affiliate along with Donatas Motiejunas and Scott Machado. The only problem is that nobody has seen him...
He didn't show up Monday for Houston's game against Miami and then skipped practice on Tuesday with no reason given to acting head coach Kelvin Sampson. Beyond that, White hasn't been to practice in three days.
White, however, sees it all differently:
Obviously this is a big concern for the Rockets. White was a mid-level draft pick that could have been a lottery selection if not for concerns surrounding his anxiety issues, which has reared its head in Houston a few times already.
During training camp he made headlines after missing most of the first week, citing his anxiety and the fear of flying that branches off that anxiety. A few days after the start of training camp, he and the team worked out a deal that would allow him to take a bus to every game possible.
From there it looked like White was smooth sailing. We hadn't heard anything about him, and with him not on the court, no news was probably good news. This most recent occurrence has to be the most damning to his situation. Not only did he skip a game, but he missed out on three straight days of practice.
There's no word yet as to whether or not it's related to his anxiety disorder, but at this point there's a certain number of assumptions we can make with the given pattern.
As a human it seems natural to want White to succeed. Sure, he's had his run-ins with trouble in the past, but there's a desire to see people overcome and succeed in spite of themselves. It just doesn't look like that's the road White is capable of taking right now.
White's status as a high draft pick is going to give him a little bit of leeway. Obviously the Rockets want him to succeed, and they're going to give him every opportunity to do so. But how many free passes is he going to get?
The most concerning thing surrounding the whole situation is that Rockets owner Leslie Alexander has had some disparaging comments, all after being confident about the draft pick over the summer.
“It’s tough to talk about something like that," Alexander said. "I think we’re going to handle it internally. If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.”
Alexander addressed that the problem was being dealt with internally. Via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Leslie Alexander, who no doubt was thrilled w/ questions about Royce White, said there were “internal repercussions" for White's absences.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) November 13, 2012
It's obvious that White is in hot water here; if the owner isn't happy then it's going to be hard for many people to defend him. However, that doesn't necessarily mean his career is in jeopardy.
With Iowa State White played the game like a constant whirling dervish. Always moving, something always happening, and all parts of his game moving in different directions simultaneously. Unfortunately he's the same way off the court.
As long as he exhibits talent, there will be a place for him in the NBA. His tenure with the Rockets may be in jeopardy, but teams have histories of taking chances with troubled players.
Delonte West has continually found a job, and he'll probably be employed again by year's end. Metta World Peace has punched fans and elbowed a man in the head, yet he's still on the floor. Chris Andersen was suspended for nearly two years after testing positive for "drugs of abuse" yet he continued his career.
The biggest concern is that since Royce White has yet to hit the floor, he has yet to show the league his skills like everybody else who has gotten second chances. What's concerning now is that White used Twitter as a platform to air his grievances. That's not exactly something that endears players to owners, and it wouldn't surprise me to see him removed from the team in the near future.
In the end, it all comes down to one thing, and White sums it up nicely himself:
It's sad to think ppl ACTUALLY think 🏀 should be higher on my priority list then health..you can't enjoy success OR money without health.
— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 14, 2012