Royce White Is In A Standoff With The Rockets Over His Anxiety

Royce White‘s battle with anxiety has been well documented. His issues arose almost immediately after being drafted by the Houston Rockets with the No. 16 pick in last June’s draft. He failed to report on time for training camp even as he was one of the players to watch in this summer’s Vegas League, where he performed well. He’s a great prospect for the pros with size and skills – including solid court vision – but his anxiety keeps creeping up, and he’s been on Houston’s inactive list since Patrick Patterson and Greg Smith returned from early season injuries.

On Monday, after word came that he was being demoted to the Rockets D-League affiliate, he went AWOL during Monday’s game and Tuesday’s practice. Yesterday, he took to Twitter and released a statement about how he feels concerning his treatment with the Rockets:

“In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder — due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since pre-season the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.

At this point, the Rockets are aware of my position and the reason for my absence, any other response is inaccurate. This is important to me, it is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights, it is a player-commodity league — the failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport.”

White’s turbulent time in the league comes after an equally tough college career that saw him suspended from his first school. After a stellar high school career that saw him win every game in his senior year, he headed to Minnesota. A couple incidents led to his suspension in Minnesota during the 2009-10 season, and he eventually transferred to Iowa State University.

At Iowa State, Royce led the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals, the only Division I player to do so during the 2010-2011 season. His play turned him into a first-round pick by Daryl Morey‘s Rockets.

It’s important White gets the care he needs to be comfortable, but the NBA is a business (the lockout last summer should have proved this already), and a player’s special circumstances can only be addressed when they’re not affecting the team around them. If White has to miss some practices or travel by bus that’s fine, up to a point. The NBA is a cutthroat world, and while it’s important he should be allowed a chance, his honesty can’t excuse behavior that would normally call for his termination from the team.

White’s courage in opening up to the Rockets cannot be applauded enough, and his contention that honesty is what’s done him in so far in Houston is sad to see. But the realities of the NBA can’t be ignored either. Hopefully there’s a way to work around his condition so he can finally step onto the court, but he has to show up for games and practices, and so far that hasn’t been the case.

We hope Royce White finds his way to the hardwood as an NBA player, but the Rockets – like all NBA teams – are a business, and they can’t allow his erratic behavior to affect their bottom line. If that sounds too harsh or capitalistic, it’s not because we feel that way; it’s the NBA market as a whole (so, don’t shoot the weather man). If the Rockets do release White (Yahoo! Sports reports they have no intentions to do so at this time), you can be sure other NBA teams will come a-calling for his services. Hopefully whichever team White lands with has a plan in place to help him deal with his anxiety in a constructive manner and without negatively affecting the rest of the team.

What do you think?

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