Is This the End of Royce White's NBA Journey?
White did not travel with the Sixers on their preseason trip to Europe—a concession made by the team for White's well-known fear of flying, according to Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News (via Rob Mahoney of The Point Forward)—but did play in five preseason games, averaging five points and 4.4 rebounds on 39.1 percent shooting.
Traded to the Sixers following a controversial rookie season in Houston—featuring zero games played and a seemingly endless run of feature articles on the treatment of mental health in America—White seemed like he had landed in the ideal spot for a second chance.
The Sixers are not looking to compete on the court this season as they make a play for a high draft pick, and they figured to spend a lot of time auditioning high-upside talent. And despite his off-the-court issues, White, the 16th pick in the 2012 NBA draft, appeared to be that kind of talent.
What will be next for Royce White? He might not have a future in the NBA—at least not this season—as teams probably won't gamble on a midseason addition with no track record and a history of controversy.
White's best bet for playing time might be to try to catch on with a D-League team, but he might have more trouble finding a spot than any first-round pick in recent memory. He spent 16 games last season with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, but opted not to stay with the team for the playoffs due to its "hectic" schedule.
If White is interesting in earning money, he could try to negotiate a deal with a European team. Given his fear of flying, perhaps there are teams in some of the smaller European countries with travel schedules to suit him. He might have a problem, though, with some of the more "passionate" European basketball crowds.
Finally, should he decide to set basketball aside for a while, White could spend more time focusing on his plan to open a mental health clinic. Regardless of the ill will he may have engendered in the basketball community with some of his antics, White does seem genuinely concerned about helping those with mental health issues.
This might have been the last, best hope for White to catch on with an NBA team. Despite his physical talents, no team will be willing to invest time and resources in him until he proves he can play a full season, either in the D-League or abroad. Since he clearly has interests outside of basketball, it might be time for White to head down a new path.
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