Rockets’ White AWOL Again

HOUSTON — The difficult path to a successful NBA career for rookie Royce White keeps getting harder.

After it was announced that the Rockets forward was among three rookies — also Donatas Motiejunas and Scott Machado — who were being sent to the NBA Development League, White once more did not attend practice on Tuesday.

White has been inactive for most games this season, including Monday night against the Heat when he did not sit on the bench.

“That’s tenuous and it’s tough to talk about something like that, but I think we can handle it internally,” said Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. “If he doesn’t work out, well, it’s tough to lose a draft choice.

“I feel bad for Royce and I feel very bad for the team. We’ve had internal repercussions which I’m not going to talk about.”

The Rockets knew that White suffers from generalized anxiety disorder when they chose him with the No. 16 pick in the draft last June.

Problems first surfaced when White did not show up for the start of training camp, which was held at the home of the Rockets’ D League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers. During that time, White and his representatives worked out a plan with the Rockets and the NBA which would allow him to travel to many road games by bus, since a fear of flying exacerbates his anxiety disorder.

It is believed White has missed other practices, though it is not known whether Tuesday’s absence was related to anxiety.

When asked why White did not attend practice, acting coach Kelvin Sampson said: “I haven’t talked to (general manager) Daryl (Morey). I didn’t realize he (White) wasn’t here today until we got to practice. I guess after this little deal, I’m going to find out what’s wrong. I’m not sure what’s wrong right now. We talked to Scott and D-Mo last night. Royce wasn’t at the game last night as far as I know.”

White,  in a statement released by his publicist Tuesday night, said: “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 preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.”

White claimed he is not AWOL.

“Any other response is inaccurate,” he said in his statement. “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.”

It has been customary for all Rockets rookies to spend some time in the D League. First-round picks Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris have been there the past two seasons and made the most of the experience. In addition, point guard Jeremy Lin said he used it to resurrect his career.

“For me personally, my experience in the D League helped my career go a little longer,” said Lin. “If I didn’t go to the D League when I got cut by Golden State, I’m not sure if Houston and New York pick me up if I never played in the D League the year before. It can be used as a positive in the right way.

“I think we’re all worried for (White). But he’s a tough kid and the best part about it is he’s a really good basketball player. So if he gets on that basket and he just is himself, you don’t have to worry about anything.”


  1. Susan delrosario says:

    I think Royce. Should get help with his fear of flying and go to a good psychologist. who can help Royce overcome his fear of flying and get something to calm down

  2. Iota says:

    He does NOT deserve the respect and help if he didn’t even try to attend all practice / training.

  3. Chester says:

    who does he think he is? Hes not michael jordan, hasnt played a single game yet. Whites gotta earn the respect

  4. watcher says:

    Is this guy for real?
    Bad choice Rockets.

  5. mark says:

    Royce White has been dishonest from the very beginning with himself, the fans and the Rockets. He missed the 1st week of training camp and then claimed that he was being “proactive” in creating an atmosphere that was healthy for him. Many other players came to training camp a week and in some cases several weeks early, so that they could learn McHale’s system and learn each other’s game.

    If White really wanted to be “proactive”, he should have made the arrangement with the Rockets immediately after “Summer League” and come to training camp (in the Rio Grande Valley the whole time) early (there was no flying in a plane happening at that time).

    It shows that he has this “Prima Donna”, self-centered, lazy approach to the NBA. Morris was upset about going to the D-League last year, but has benefitted from that time to play meaningful minutes while not adversely affecting the Rockets chances at winning games. He now is a part of the rotation. White needs to “grow up” and do the same thing. He will have to pay his dues this year and earn the ooportunity next year to crack the rotation.

  6. baba says:

    The guy is at a loss and will soon enough be out of his dream job. And with all these internal arguments between him and houston, he is also showing how hard it is to handle him. It will not be pretty. The more this pushes through, the more he will feel stressed out and will probably worsen his anxieties. I feel sorry for him. He is at his lowest point for sure. I hope the rockets and him find a way to ease things out. If he can play 100% of his game, he will surely be successful in this league.

  7. Spencer says:

    Can’t they just give this guy some seditives. There’s gotta be something. Maybe knock down some sleeping pills or something. Just enough to help ease his stress for the flights

  8. Travis says:

    The first issue with this is the Title of this article, you shouldn’t say he is AWOL. He isn’t AWOL, that was a horrible word to use in the title and in the article itself. Royce has a disorder, and becasue of his struggle, you lable his as AWOL..
    That is ridiculous

  9. leggomymelo says:

    to say he was fine through out college, and is now exaggerating his illness just to get the guaranteed money is absurd. why would he settle for a rookie contract when he could play and then potentially sign a bigger one within a couple of years? If he could play, he would.

  10. Kevin Wu says:

    White can’t AWOL like this, he is a adult and he must find a solution mainly by himself ,he should look forward and try to overcome it ,maybe Houston Rocket admit something ,but anyway White should go and be a man instead of AWOL,it is unrespectly and unacceptable!

  11. Hmmmm... says:

    They are giving him a chance because he earned it just like all the other ppl in the league…Once the Rockets decide to meet White in the middle, they will be able to work it out. Personally know a few ppl with the same illness he has, at times it is hard to control, meds help a little with it and you do need to be in a somewhat stable environment. I wish both sides the best, it’ll all work out.. Maybe use the cry thing on DHoward, or Steve Franchise back in the day when he didn’t want to play for team that drafted him, Damon Stoudamire too! White has some serious stuff going on and he feels the team isn’t supporting that….

  12. crossyboy says:

    I’m genuinely shocked by some of the comments on here. Lets try to address one or two.

    First of all, the report we’re commenting on is fairly sketchy. We know that he’s missed practice. We don’t know why. Until the facts are out, lets not judge him.

    (2) Basketball as a privilege: Since when? We like to hold sportsmen to a higher standard. NBA basketball isn’t a privilege, it’s a job. He is paid to play basketball because he’s good at it. Yes he’s paid a lot. Yes people are watching him on and off the court, but lets not confuse the issue here. There are countless NBA Players who have been lazy, uncommitted, or engaged in immoral behaviour. He hasn’t done any of these things. Yes, he’s missed practices, no, that’s not the right thing to do, but we are aware that there are circumstances behind these things.

    (3) Mental Illness = lazyness / attitude: Simply disgraceful. All the reports I’ve seen peg White as a high-character guy, albiet with a disorder that needs to be supported. He’s not disruptive, you don’t have to worry what he’s up to and he trains hard. Playing at a high level under such a level of scrutiny is a stressful job and must be extremely difficult for someone with Anxiety-Disorder. It’s a credit to him that he’s made it this far.

    (4) If he can’t fly, he shouldn’t play: What’s one got to do with the other? A few years ago, there was an English Premiership footballer who suffered from panic attacks when flying. For years he didn’t travel to any European away matches and this undoubtedly cost his team success and millions of pounds. But the team were aware and accepted it as a condition of having the player at the club. They worked with him and he began to make a percentage of away matches by bus and after a few years even flew to a few matches. But it was a process and both sides worked at it over a period of time. To simply say fly or you’re sacked is not only immoral and impractical, but I would imagine under the terms of his contract, illegal.

    (5) He shouldn’t be treated any differently: There’s a saying, “Same, but different.” That’s how he should be treated. Not any better, or any worse, but given the support he needs in order to fulfill his job to the best of his abilities. Houston chose to draft him and pay him millions of dollars a year, in order to play basketball for them. They made the choice, now they need to work with Royce to maximise his effectiveness and that will involve off-court support in excess of the average player. If they weren’t prepared to give him this, then they never should have drafted him.

    (6) He wouldn’t be doing this if he wasn’t on a guaranteed contract: The idea that the problems are only there because he has a guaranteed contract is absurd. Yes, it might force him to travel, but it wouldn’t mean he’s cured and he’d probably break down and be cut anyway. There are many regular people who have been forced to do things that they shouldn’t be donig to pay the bills, it doesn’t mean it’s right.

    Now one thing that hasn’t been discussed is the benefits of the situation (thinking laterally), The Rookie Wall hits most players, mainly through exhaustion. Most of that exhaustion comes from a packed playing schedule, but especially travel. By cutting out 25 (at a guess) out of White’s schedule he remains fresh through the season. Personally I’d rather have a player at 100% player 70% of the games, than a player at 70% playing 100% of the games.

    The only thing I do have an issue with is the apparent lack of communication. White has an agent, who he presumably trusts. The agent needs to be proactive in ensuring there is support in place for White and that the Rockets are appraised of all situations. The Rockets management, White and his agent are all responsible for this and if that isn’t in place, then the situation is going to exacerbate and a talented player, a high draft pick and millions of dollars is going to be wasted. I for one hope it doesn’t happen.

  13. Ray Mack says:

    I really had liked this dude and his story that was told about his illness, but now he’s beginning to act really selfish…..You can’t just SOUND OFF at the Rockets who seem to be on his side and trying to work with him. Now he’s complaining about going to the D-League………What a shame…….I will support my team(The Rockets) no matter what.

  14. kicka$$ says:

    do what they do to Mr.T in the A-team series.. don’t inform him on the flight scedule then give him sleeping pill before taking off.. it would also help with his anxiety as it would make him feel relaxed

  15. Troyerz says:

    I mean common! Has no one realized that since James Harden got to this team they have been in a bit more of a ‘here and now’ thinking mode? They we’re originally thinking long term: “…we have a young team…. we are the youngest team in the League… we are looking to developing our young roster… looking to the future… bla bla bla.

    Now, everyone is thinking “Who can we BRING IN that will complement the play of James Harden.”

    Are we forgetting that these guys made a pitch for D. Will, and D. Howard not too long ago? Rockets Management isn’t really about winning 3-4 years from now. It’s NOW! Everybody knew that the 3 picks drafted this year were simply bargining chips to land big names, NOW! (Harden) See how fast J. Lamb was handed to OKC in the Harden deal.

    Sorry Royce, we like your game, it’s special, but these guys aren’t thinking like you’re thinking. Try to find a team that does.. or one will -when you’re shipped.

    • BMW says:

      Troyerz, team direction changes as opportunity present themselves. So the Rockets have to stick to plan they annouced before they acquired Harden? Of course not. Haven’t you ever changed your mind based on a different set of circumstances? Come on bro. It’s not that much different.

  16. Hold up! says:

    I have anxiety/panic disorder. There are ways to deal with it. This guy just needs to double up on his meds when he has to fly, simple as that. I hope he realizes that the NBA is a dream job and he should not take it for granted. The wording of his statements almost sound like hes about to put a lawyer between him and the Rockets.

  17. Filipino Idiot says:

    Let him play on the streets. Why give this crying baby a chance?

  18. Chus says:

    I can`t believe what I read on this comments. To me, the Rockets seem to have been really disrespectful with Royce White and the other rookies they drafted. Yeah, right, the guy`s got an issue with flights, but come on, he wouldn´t even have played those games, just like the other rookies. How much playing time did terrence Jones get? And Motienjunas? And Machado? I thought this was a team in reconstruction, made to create a good future. What future can you build with players that never play? They are a losing team right now, anyway. What are they waiting for to give their rookies some minutes?
    And talking especifically about White, I feel that the Rockets organisation is not ready to deal with his problems. They should be helping him, taking care of him and his image, and they`re failing to do it. He`s a very good player. He`s strong, smart on the court, he´s got a good hand… he can do everything on the court. And they´re not being able to use that as an advantage. I`m sorry for them and expect that they still can bounce back and enjoy with these young players for the long career they deserve.
    Sorry if my english is not good enough, this is not my first language, but I felt I had to say this.

    • BMW says:

      You must not be a Rockets fan or following the team based on the comments you are making. The Rockets say they have an obligation to play the best people on the team that gives them a chance to win. None of us are coaches and see the what goes on in practice or see the basketball IQ of some of these players. These rookies still need time to development. Royce doesn’t deserve minutes because he’s been absent the majority of the time he’s been with the Rockets. D-Mo is clearly not ready for the NBA and is not the best big man ready to play. He had a good summer league offensively, but looked like a deer caugth in headlights during pre-season and played awful. He needs the D League to help get better defensively. Period. Greg Smith and Cole Aldrich are better players at this point. Also not playing rookies is not disrepectful. Earn your spot. Besides it seems to me that the Rockets didn’t think Royce issue would be at the point it is so early in the season and his career. The Rockets can’t just bend over backwards to accomodate one person. They have at least tried to work with him, but at some point how much is too much or not enough. And yes he is skilled, but he hasn’t earned a spot on the court because he can’t show up. Period.

  19. Lakers in 2013??? I think YES! says:

    It seems to me that White downplayed the extent of his illness. He flew when needed in college games, flew to tryouts with teams, and then as soon as he was drafted, hey presto, I have all these problems. I personally think that he was only after the guaranteed contract, and now he has that, his “illness” will prevent him from participating with the team. The Rockets should wake up, realise that he will only ever be a distraction, and waive him. Waste of money sure, but continuing on this path will be a waste of time AND money.

  20. U want it u go get it says:

    I honestly think if he really wanted to be the best he would do what he had to and yea it’s a issue but at the same time u can’t miss work like that and if u wanna play u gotta show ur dedication and hard work

  21. the Truth says:

    It’s clearly a mental issue. People have to overcome their problems rather than accommodate them, not saying that it’s always easy, but it’s the only way. Every problem has a root. He is scared of flying because he is probably scared of dieing. He has to learn to not be scared of dieing, which he can do with the right type of therapy. Until then the only thing to do is get on that plane and chill out. He’s a grown man.

  22. empathy says:

    If we actually pay attention to what Royce said in the press release something should stand out. The exact quote is “As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship.” Why in the world would an organization construct a plan to help Royce transition to the NBA and then fail to follow through? Draft picks are commodities and to waste a pick by not following through on a plan the Rockets organization helped craft is incredibly foolish.
    Grantland did an eight minute video about Royce White on draft day. At one point his agent calls and tells him that of all the teams drafting from 15th to 28th, only 4 have not refused to draft him and the only Rocket who wants him is Kevin McHale.
    A few things to keep in mind. Point 1: During the NCAA tournament, Iowa State played Kentucky. Kentucky had 4 first round picks and 6 players drafted this year. There were moments when Royce was the best player on the floor. Let that sink in. Playing against 4 first round picks, two of them being Anthony Davis and MKG, Royce was the best man on the floor. Point 2: Kevin McHale was a fantastic big man and can see talent. The last major move he made as an executive in Minnesota traded Mayo and spare parts for K Love and 2 guys who would go on to win NBA championships (Brian Cardinal with the Mavs in 2011 and Mike Miller with the Heat in 2012). K Love went developed all the way into one of the best power forwards in the game at the ripe age of 24.
    In the age of social media and extremely short reaction times we (as Rocket fans) need patience. If Kevin McHale was willing to draft Royce White we should trust his judgement. If the organization isn’t following through on the agreement that was made previously then Royce has every right to stand up for himself. He is a unique basketball talent and should be given a chance.

    • F.Rocketsfan34 says:

      Thank You Empathy. A well thought out, detailed, intelligent comment. It was the Houston Rockets that drafted Royce White, not the other way around. They knew his anxiety order was a serious ordeal that had to be dealt with and accommodated. I don’t have the terms of his contract or his agreement so I cannot speak to specifics but we know there is an “agreement” of some nature between the two entities. Regarding the question why should he have chosen this profession or entered the NBA draft, well, because he can. And he was drafted. Also I believe being an NBA player is more of a great distinction and honor, not a privilege. No person’s job or profession in and of itself is really a privilege at least to me.

    • Travis says:

      I completely agree with you, and completely disagree with all of the comments above me. Having an anxiety disorder is an illness. It is EVERY BIT as hampering as Derrick Rose’s knee problem. He hasnt asked to skip all games or practices, and he has been completely open and honest with the team since the beginning. All he needs is to take HIS OWN bus to some games. Think about that. Driving to some games instead of flying. It is the harder option. More exhausting and time consuming for him and noone else. How is that bad for the team or anyone else? How is cheating?

      The Rockets knew he had this illness. The least they can do is work with him. If he needed ‘special treatment’ for breaking his arm im sure they would provide that to make him get comfortable.

  23. David says:

    Why did he even bother to enter the draft if he has this much axiety with flying? It doesn’t make any sense…I know following your dream to make it to the pro’s is 1 thing but when it involves so much travel you have to look to plan B.

  24. Chester says:

    i second the above comments. the rockets have to stop worrying about polictical correctness and potential controversy and give this guy an ultimatum. you either can play or you cant, its not fair to his teamates who turn up to practice and every game

  25. Ryan says:

    I think that “anxiety disorder” is one thing, but choosing to not even communicate with your employer as to when you will show up to work is outside of that realm. That’s disrespect, pure and simple. The guy should be cut and not allowed back in the league.

  26. Truth Teller says:

    For all its worth he shouldn’t have been drafted. Being in the NBA is a priviliage and he’s wearing out his welcome. How can you be a professional athlete and be afraid to fly. I mean its understandable for people to have a fear of flying, but those people aren’t signing million dollar contracts. Honestly to me it seems as if he isn’t even trying. I commend Houston for drafting him but its not working, he’s just taking up roster space.

    • Lakers in 2013??? I think YES! says:

      totally agree with ALMOST everything you said. The only part I disagree with is commending Houston for drafting him. Clearly all the other teams saw that he had the talent, but his “illness” would be to risky a proposition to draft him. I would have loved to see how different he might have been if he was drafted in the 2nd round, and thud did not have a guaranteed contract. Bet he would manage to manage his illness then.

  27. AnnoYouLater says:

    this guy is unworthy of the opportunity given to him…i mean yea u have this disordered but not informing your team that you cant come to practice/game is very disrespectful…

  28. beyKrewz says:

    that’s absurd knowing what kind of life you’ll be having once you enter the league.
    he should call it quits and just be contented working near his home.
    that’s a waste of draft pick for the unfortunate team.

  29. emmanuel says:

    im not a rockets fan and i understand why hes is nervous to fly but this is ridiculous he should not have chosen this career path if he is going to miss 50 percent of each season

    • okafri24 says:

      The biggest mistake the Rockets made was drafting him

    • slider821 says:

      rockets are idiots for wasting a draft pick on a guy who everyone knew was not going to make it in the league. I feel bad for the dude but he’s gotta be real with himself, he isn’t mentally fit to travel for 9 months of the year while playing ball at a high level.
      When I heard about his disorder and how bad it was, I wouldn’t have expected ANY team to draft him, even with the last pick of the draft…so Houston gets him with their first round pick? D-Morey made a bad decision on that one. They could have had talent at pick #16 but he chose a dude who can’t even get on the floor for a game.

    • Gameon says:

      Thank You, can we be real for a minute I am sensitive to the mental health issues he has however knowing what being in the NBA entails he cannot expect the Rockets to always accomadate him and only him it is a bit ridiculous he needs to probably go to his menatl Health Therapist and explore this issue and maybe figure out some forms of treatment to handle his fear of flying otherwise Houston needs to cut their losses. There are plenty of people in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL etc who have these very same issues they choose to deal with it in a different way so that they can have the opportunity to play at a professional level and keep the respect for the games they love. I think Royce is asking too much from the Rockets organization. If someone like Ron Artest (MWP) can get better so can Royce

  30. Chris says:

    Being a Spurs fan for many years and having a better than average understanding for those who suffer from metal disorders i feel he would benifit on a team like the Spurs. With such support network for players is something that he needs. Im not saying he doesnt fit in Houston but seeing him play he would suit the Spurs down very well.