Will Royce White Sink Or Swim With 76ers?

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Philadelphia 76ers forward Royce White is, according to ESPN,  the worst player in the NBA. The media giant ranks every player in the league in its annual player rankings, a worst-to-first countdown that kicked off Tuesday with the one of the league’s most confounding players.

White’s situation has been baffling from the start. The Houston Rockets drafted him 16th overall out of Iowa State in 2012, but the 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward, an intriguing blend of power, grace and versatility, has yet to play his first NBA minute. White suffers from an anxiety disorder that includes a fear of flying, something that could be debilitating for an NBA player and his career. He used his new-found public platform last season to criticize the Rockets, the NBA and society in general for a fundamental lack of understanding of mental disorders, championing the cause to create acceptable working environments for people coping with mental illness.

He’s been lauded by some as a much-needed crusader (in January, a mental-health center bearing his name is scheduled to open in Houston) and criticized by others as an opportunist who used his position to draw public attention to a situation that might better be handled through cooperation.

Royce claimed that the Rockets did not live up to promises to provide him with surroundings that would help him deal with his illness. When he refused an NBA Development League assignment early in the season, the team suspended him for violating his contract. The Rockets reinstated him in January and White finally agreed to join Houston’s D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. By then, Royce’s weight reportedly had ballooned to around 300 pounds. He played 12 games with the Vipers, averaging 9.5 points and 5.6 rebounds a game, but later left. The Rockets ultimately found the situation intolerable and traded him in July to Philadelphia for virtually nothing.

White has appeared willing to engage in this fresh start with Philadelphia, judging by his Twitter messages. But where he and the Sixers go from here is still unclear. Philadelphia’s training camp opens on Sept. 28. The Sixers have seven preseason games scheduled, including one in Spain and another in England.

The Sixers could not be reached for comment on White’s status for training camp or the preseason schedule.

On Twitter, White has posted shout-outs to his Philly teammates, and on Tuesday he responded positively to the ESPN.com ranking:

Bottomed-out and rebuilding, Philly needs players, particularly young and inexpensive building blocks, and White is considered a low-risk acquisition. The team will owe him $1.7 million this season with an option to keep him or let him walk next season.

If White and the Sixers can come to some kind of a solution to cope with his illness, his talent suggests he could become one of the more intriguing comeback stories of the year. He could make a positive impact for his new team and, in doing so, he would create a larger and more welcoming platform to champion the cause of mental-health awareness.


  1. Big Will says:

    I personally see Royce White as a productive player that can positively affect any NBA organization. I hope the man can train and work hard, loose the weight, get thing on the right track health wise and get on the court and prove all his doubters wrong. I know Royce will be a great player in the NBA, he has the ability, the know how and vision to challenge the best in the league. I’m waiting for the games Royce may play against Carmelo, Lebron and others like them and put on a good show. I Rockets drafted Royce because they saw a jewel, a steal in the draft, which I still believe he is. If Royce never plays in the NBA it will be solely because he has challenged and stepped on the foot of individuals on the higher levels of the NBA who don’t want him in the league and won’t allow it.

    My only major question about Royce White I have is how is it that he was able to play in college and dominate, play at a level to get the attention of NBA scouts under Fred Hoiberg but not able to transition that understanding into the NBA (traveling)? What happened? How did the game change from college to the NBA? I also fear that I will never see Royce play a single NBA game and I don’t see the ultimate value in his actions if he never has an NBA career.

    He’s nothing close to 500 if people like Kwame Brown still get contracts.

  2. Slimslam says:

    McHale went out on a limb to convince the Rockets organization to draft this guy. He was a relatively high draft pick. The Rockets definitely did want him to pan out. There was no hostility coming from the team who spent a draft pick and a large chunk of money on him. In the preseason, Houston fans were psyched about White’s performance and some of the things he said in interviews. But Royce White turned off the fans, he turned off the organization, he turned off me. . . . So he has a legitimate disability or mental health issue. There’s nothing shameful about that. But it may effectively disqualify him from playing in the NBA. If he were paraplegic, in a wheelchair, people might not be prejudiced against him, but he still would be unable to perform in the NBA. It’s possible that he just has a condition that prevents him from working in the NBA. And if he doesn’t, he really screwed Houston and the distaste for him there has only just begun.

  3. Kov says:

    If he cannot do his job (like we all have to do)find some one who can. Why pay for damaged goods.When rebuilding you don’t need a distraction. Don’t waste your time on a mental project.

  4. Dmac says:

    Royce White… Aint he that guy that tried to take a dig at durantula

  5. dmh says:

    I read an article on ESPN I think it was that basically said that the whole point to the trade on Philly’s side was the 2nd round pick Furkan something or another….. I guess this Furkan dude is tearing it up overseas and should be in the US playing for an NBA team in around 2 years after the contract overseas is closer to expiring and the buyout becomes manageable. Plus Philly is so far under the cap right now that the only way to even get close to the NBA minimum team salary without taking on extra longterm salary was to take a low risk 1 year deal. If he doesn’t work out in Philly, they simply decline his option for next year. If he does work out, Philly has him under rookie salary for the next two option years.

    Mental illness is a bword…. However there are ways to make it work. Morey has been very adversarial as a GM. McKale doesn’t play rookies. The situation was doomed from the start. Now, Houston has Dwight Howard partially due to the salary dumps of Robinson and White. Also now, Philly is well on its way to a rebuild with the trade with New Orleans and the prospects and draft picks in the future. Both the Rockets and White are in healthier situations.

    The best way to make this work is to get White on board with the medical. Houston basically tried to force Baylor doctors on White. Remember, Baylor and Iowa State are big 12 rivals. Not that the collegiate atmosphere should matter (it probably doesn’t) but, the anxiety over what White did to Baylor in college may have played into it. I think the way it started did not help things.

    White needs to give on a few things as well. Fine, Take the bus to closer away games like NYK, BKN, and BOS. However he needs to figure out a way to drug himself up to get to LA, Phoenix etc without issue. He did so in college and Hoiberg basically called him a model citizen. The nba has not dealt with someone as blatantly open about his mental condition before. Instead, they had people like Delonte West, Ron Artest/MWP, and Beasley who kept quiet and to various degrees have been their own undoing due to lack of support. Artest- Malace at the palace, West- waived due to complications with I believe its bipolar if I read right… Beasley- undiagnosed talent that has been his own undoing due to pot and other infractions.

    He can be a breath of fresh air in Philly if he puts his head down and works. Philly needs to get top psyciatric care on the job. However there is a reason why the next two years are options. If he pulls any shenanigans, Philly loses very little by waiving White. He needs to realize this and work with Sixer management. It is a touchy situation but, it may work as crazy as this sounds. The talent is there when White is in shape and in the game mentally.

  6. slider821 says:

    ahaha did he just sign a tweet with #winning? Can’t win if you never play, idiot. He reminds me of paris hilton; deserves no respect but needs the spotlight

  7. darko says:

    There’s always talk of saving legs, &of the NBA season being too long. White could play in 60 games easily, east coast and home without flying and have a longer healthier career. Why not?

  8. SYDALE says:

    STINK! I mean… Sink…

  9. rbglovs says:

    royce white can play in home games in phily and neighboring teams!

  10. ac says:

    I have to say that I am really sick of hearing about this guy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insensitive to the perils of mental disease. Since this is the internet and I don’t care about any of you, I feel no shame in admitting that I have bi-polar. So believe me, I understand very intimately the realities of mental disease.

    What angers me about him is, first and foremost, he chose this career. And this career, as it turns out, necessitates travel. Which is why I find his preaching to the NBA about being insensitive to be utterly ridiculous. If I suffered from severe agoraphobia I wouldn’t take a job as a door to door salesman.

    I think what bothers me most, is how he has attempted to use this as a platform to preach to the NBA and fans alike about being tolerant of mental disease. And it’s almost served to make people forget what a punk he was in college.

  11. E.Balnik-ZaValee says:

    Putting all those talks about him being able or unable, willing or unwilling to make that extra step towards actually playing basketball instead of making himself an excuses whe he can’t do it, I suggest one thing. It’s plain and simple, pay him half of his salary and let him play home games only. If he manages to do it on a consistent basis showing a decent level of play, then maybe (just maybe) he could somehow manage to move on and make that extra step.

    But right now all we hear are some pointless talks from Royce. Yet so far he’s a waste of a draft pick and he’s taken someone’s place, someone who would’ve been more worthy and surely more efficient basketball-wise because Royce’s efficiency currently equals 0.00.

  12. J says:

    u can do it

  13. ok now says:

    hmmm Houston did have 41 home games too right ? so why did he not play in any of those is he scared of cars too ?

    • Tommy says:

      Maybe the fact that he’s ranked 500th in the NBA says something? Hmmm… Let’s use our logic… The guy obviously didn’t show their staff that he could play… He was sent to the D league…

  14. T-Mac Fan says:

    They should just start from “ok, you play in the home games” with this guy… And do some physical training and basketball practises while the rest of the team is away.

    And as someone already said, there are some teams near by, to which he could go with a bus or something. Or take the short flight, just try to cope with the fear of flying… You really shouldn’t get in an airplane for 4-5 hours if you are afraid of it. An hour or two flight would probably be easier on him. And this can probably reach most teams in the East.

    But then again, I don’t have a mental disorder so I don’t know how it is… He should try to get to the court with the Sixers so we can see what he is made of, besides the mental disorder bit. He hasn’t painted a very nice picture of himself so far. He should try to improve his image in order to be the champion of similar cases down the line.

  15. John says:

    I wish Royce White all the best. I hope he can get on the court. Although out of shape when he was in teh D league he showed he could rebound, play D and shoot. He was a young version of Meta World Peace…….but more polished. I think with a rotation of Carter-Williams, Turner, Young, White, Noel and the help of Hawes the 76ers can be competitive. I’m saying making the playoffs in such a strong conference but they wont be the Bobcats.

  16. Unkle Daddy says:

    Bump this guy, bring back my man Adam Morrison. Fear the stache!

  17. erwin says:

    Why not give his slot to other hopeful who’s willing to die just to make it to the NBA…….

  18. Moomz says:

    Being in Philadelphia, he is around many other Atlantic division and Eastern Conference teams and wouldn’t require flights to reach, and this may help him. I’ve watched him play and he looks very serviceable, but I haven’t liked what I’ve seen so far.

  19. Common says:

    It’s cool, because this is exactly what Philly needs this year, the worst NBA players available. They shipped Holiday for Noel (who won’t start before Xmas) and some picks. Sixers migth beat Bobcats’ losing record and they’ll be glad about it .

    • Adam Morrison says:

      The Sixer do have the worst record of all time if I’m not mistaken, the Bobcats have the worst win percentage because of the lock out season.

  20. lol says:

    he will never manage to play in the NBA, the guy made a fool of himself no one wants him cause of his disorder, he has no future in the NBA he should quit and go work for an office or sth

  21. 2014OKC says:

    That’s like a doctor having a fear of walking down a corridor to get to his patients. You gotta be willing to get to your destination to do your work, or get a job/career where you work from home. I just wasted my words. The 76ers are not even in playoff contention this season. Do we really care right at this moment about this subject?