Posts Tagged ‘Vipers’

Royce White Shows Flashes in D-League

HIDALGO, Tex. — This is what Royce White wanted, to be fighting through picks instead of fighting to be heard, chasing down rebounds rather than understanding.

Three months after he separated from the team and five weeks after he’d been suspended by the Rockets, White finally took his story from the court of public opinion to the basketball court.

The 6-foot-8 rookie forward shot 3-for-8, scored seven points and had eight rebounds, four assists and three turnovers in his NBA D-League debut as the Rio Grande Valley Vipers whipped the Maine Red Claws 139-122 on Tuesday night.

“It was good. I liked it,” White said. “I started getting a little cramping in my quad and tried to play though it. It felt good just to be out there and playing.”

Especially after a road that was far longer than the 350 miles between Houston and this border town and had turned into an odyssey of recrimination and doubt.

The Rockets had made White the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft due to his all-around skills and versatility, but his notoriety level went through the roof when he did not report to the first week of training camp while requesting that the club and the league come up with a “protocol” to properly treat his diagnosed anxiety disorder while balancing the demands of the NBA schedule.

The Rockets had twice previously tried to assign White to the D-League. But when he would not report the second time, the club suspended him on Jan. 6. The suspension ended when the two sides reached an agreement on Jan. 26 and White was reinstated.

“It was tough not being able to play, but it was necessary,” White said. “I feel like I’ve been right on the verge of coming back the whole time. I’ve kind of been just waiting right on the edge of my seat to come back.”

That comeback began when he checked into the game with 2:47 left in the first quarter and the Vipers already ahead 31-12. Less than a minute later, White got his first assist by setting up Kyle Fogg for a 3-pointer out of the right corner. The next time down the floor, he looked off his defender on the elbow and delivered a nifty shovel pass inside to Glen Rice Jr. for a layup and a three-point play. Somehow the official scorer did not regard that as an assist.

Early in the second quarter, White demonstrated that he was so thoroughly comfortable by deciding to flip a behind-the-back pass to Fogg on a fast break that wound up in the stands and didn’t exactly tickle Vipers coach Nick Nurse.

“Not especially,” Nurse said. “Pretty cool. If he completed it, I would have been allright with it. But that one was a little wild.”

White shrugged sheepishly.

“I guess, you know, that’s how I do it sometimes,” he said.

It was about what you might have a expected from a guy playing his first game of the season and who’d admitted that prior to the last two weeks of workouts, had not been staying even close to game shape.

White says he’s at 272, just two pounds over his preferred playing weight and wants to get his arms “really ripped.”

He often appeared sluggish moving around the floor, but showed the nose for the glass, the ball-handling skills and the versatility that made the Rockets believe he was worth the game, even with history of anxiety. He also put up a couple of air balls that almost landed on the other side of the Rio Grande.

“He was pretty solid,” said Nurse. “It could have been worse, that’s for sure. It’s nice to get a game where our Viper guys busted it open early and we could be liberal with the minutes. He was a little rusty as far as general movements and stuff, but I think he showed some of his talents.”

Late in the third quarter, White had his highlight reel moment, grabbing a defensive rebound, going behind his back as he dribbled down the court, drove into the lane and then dished to Terrence Jones for a dunk.

“That’s my game,” he said.

White gave himself an “F” for a first night grade.

“I didn’t play well,” he said. “I had three turnovers. You always like to keep your ratio lower than that. I like to think of myself as a point guard and that’s just not gonna cut it. I don’t cut myself slack. When it comes to the court, I keep my standards really high and if we didn’t play so well, I couldn’t have carried the team.”

White would not put a timetable on getting to Houston to play with the Rockets this season, but doesn’t doubt his ability.

“I always feel like I can help a team,” he said. “I feel like I could make things easier for James (Harden) or Jeremy (Lin) or whoever else. Hopefully down the line, the Rockets feel the same way. I have no expectations basketball-wise. It’s been such a roller coaster.”

However White doesn’t regret that ups or the downs.

“”I think it’s all been real positive,” he said of his overall experience this season. “I feel blessed and honored to be part of what has taken place the last two months despite how tumultuous it might have seemed, it was a very progressive kind of thing and it needed to be done.

“I expected a negative reaction, for sure, just because I’m aware of the stigma that’s represented with mental health,” he said. “But as far as how hateful it got, you know death threats and things like that are way out of line, I think, for sporting types of interactions. It suggests a lot about mental health.”

“A lot of the people who actually said really hateful things have now come back and apologized and admitted they deal with mental health issues,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of dynamic to what we saw as far as reaction.”

About 30 minutes after the game, White boarded a customized RV to make the trip to Frisco, Tex., where the Vipers will play the Texas Legends tonight. His teammates would fly in the morning. Driving is one of the key components of the agreement to get him back onto the floor.

“I appreciate the Rockets and the NBA being patient with such a new topic like mental health,” White said. “Now, I’m moving forward and this isn’t the end or the beginning. It’s just another piece and we’ll just try to do the best we can with it.”

Royce White To Make D-League Debut


McALLEN, Texas — Finally, Royce White will answer the questions on a basketball court.

The Rockets rookie hopes to make his season debut with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League tonight against the Maine Red Claws (8:30 ET).

The 6-foot-8 power forward, who was the 16th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, had twice previously rejected assignments to the D-League as he demanded a “protocol” to deal his anxiety disorder, which makes traveling — especially air travel — difficult.

White opened the season on the Rockets roster, but did not play and left the team in early November. With a nose for crashing the boards and knack for passing, he would seem to be a perfect complement to the NBA’s fastest-paced offense.

White passed a physical by the Rockets over the weekend, arrived in the Rio Grande Valley on Sunday and met with Vipers team president Bert Garcia on Monday. Coach Nick Nurse will make the final determination at a pregame workout, but White is expected to be in the lineup.

White, Rockets Reach Agreement

HOUSTON — Already on the same team since they drafted him with the No. 16 pick in the draft, the Rockets and Royce White might finally be on the same page.

White and the club released a joint statement Saturday that says they have “an agreement that addresses the major issues,” that White is no longer suspended and will be immediately reinstated to the roster.

The rookie forward has agreed to report to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA Development League on Feb. 11, after first working on conditioning in Houston. The Vipers have a home game against the Maine Red Claws on Feb. 12.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and White did not comment on the agreement. The settlement was approved by the NBA office and the players’ union.

After months of acrimony, which included White taking to Twitter to accuse the Rockets of “inconsistent support” for his generalized anxiety disorder, the settlement at long last gets a player the Rockets had rated as among the top five talents in the 2012 draft.

Despite his individual skills, White’s stock had dropped in the draft due to his mental condition as few clubs were willing to even consider the special circumstances that would be needed to deal with the player’s issues, which include anxiety over airline travel.

White surprised the Rockets by not reporting to training camp and then, after what appeared to be a truce, left them again in early November, accusing them of not agreeing to a special set of “protocols.”

White had resumed individual workouts with a member of the Rockets staff while the team was on the road during Christmas week, but was suspended on Jan. 6, a week after refusing an assignment to the Vipers. Morey then said they were suspending White “for refusing to provide services as required by his Uniform Player Contract.”

Now, three months into the season, the battles might finally be just about basketball.

D-League Showcase Brings Beverley Home

RENO, Nev. — The biggest change for Patrick Beverley in his first NBA D-League game was being able to understand all that was said by of his teammates.

For better part of the past four years, he’s been a global traveler: playing in the Ukraine, Greece and Russia until signing a contract this week with the Rockets.

“I enjoyed it all,” Beverley said after playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League Showcase. “It was a great experience to play in different countries, to experience different cultures and to make some great friends along the way. But after a while, it was just time to come home.

“My goal was always the NBA and what I was waiting for was the right situation and the right team to show the interest and give me the opportunity.”

The Rockets have been keeping tabs on the 6-foot-1 point guard, who most recently had played for Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia, averaging 15 points.

A second round pick of the Lakers in 2009, Beverley played six games with the Heat in the 2010-11 season. The Rockets had tried to sign him several times in the past couple of seasons, but could not come to terms. This time Beverley was willing to pay a big part of the buyout from his European contract to make the jump to Houston. His three-year contract has the second and third years as team options.

“His defense has always been strong. He’s got speed and athleticism and can just create havoc going to the basket,” said Gersson Rosas, Rockets vice president of basketball operation and general manager of the Vipers. “He’s somebody that we think might be able to help us going forward.”

At this point, the Rockets see the 24-year-old Beverly as insurance this season for a backcourt that has been relatively injury free and like his potential more than Scott Machado, who was waived from the roster.

“I wouldn’t have a problem using him in situational minutes right now,” Rosas said.

Beverley had no problem with being asked to make the transition to the NBA with an assignment to the D-League.

“With all the different places I’ve played and traveled to, this is just another road trip along my path,” he said. “After one game, I can’t really say that Europe or the D-League is better. There are some real good players in both places. In Russia, I played with Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved. There are some real players in the D-League, too. The difference is the tempo is faster here. But the game is still the game. I just think it’s time for me now.”

Sacre Bleu! From D-League To Lakers

RENO, Nev.Michael Jordan’s Bulls winning 72 games in the 1995-96 season was unprecedented. The 33-game winning streak by the Lakers in 1971-72 was unexpected. Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 in a single game in 1962 was unbelievable.

But when it came to the absolutely unthinkable on the eve of this season, it had to be a Lakers team with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash missing the playoffs.

You could see it on the faces recoiling in shock as NBA coaches, general managers and scouts checked their email and news feeds from courtside at the NBA D-League Showcase.

One minute they were watching Robert Sacre of the L.A. D-Fenders get pushed around in the low post by Hassan Whiteside of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and in the next moment it hit them that they were watching the Lakers starting center for Tuesday night’s game in Houston.

With Howard (shoulder), Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (hip) all sidelined, Sacre will be called up from the D-League and in the middle when the Lakers play the opener of a back-to-back set against the Rockets and Spurs.

Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool. Sacre will get his starter’s baptism against Omer Asik, who has been a virtual double-double machine in the middle.

“Who could possibly have seen this?” asked one NBA executive. “Over the past few weeks you kept expecting the Lakers to get their act together and kept being shocked when more time went by and they didn’t.”

“With this latest news right now,” said another, “we’re probably looking at the best 15-18 team in NBA history that doesn’t even make the playoffs. Where do they go from here?”

For the short term, at least, to Sacre, the 7-foot rookie out of Gonzaga, who has played sparingly — 55 minutes in 13 games — while scoring a total of seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Sacre had 15 points and nine rebounds in a 127-104 loss to the Vipers, but gave up most of the 19 and 16 at the other end to Whiteside.

“Robert understands defense, but still has work to do,” said D-Fenders coach Reggie Theus. “He’s not super athletic. He might get his shot blocked a few times and that causes problems. But he does the little things.

“He knows how to play. He can knock down the 15-footer. He can take the ball to the basket. But what he really does is move the ball so well. I think he’s a very solid player who is going to be around the NBA level for a long time.”

First he’s got to stay afloat in the deep water that’s on the verge of washing the Lakers away.

White Says Chances High He Won’t Play


HANG TIME, Texas — While he has never stepped once onto the court in an official game during an ongoing dispute with the Rockets, rookie Royce White now says there is a good chance his NBA career is already over. He blames the league for the lack of protocol on mental health issues, which include his generalized anxiety disorder.

“I think that the chances are very high,” White told Justin Termine and former NBA player Mateen Cleaves in an interview on Sirius/XM radio. “I say that just like I said before the draft that the chances were very high that I didn’t even get drafted. Because business in America, as we all know, is about one thing and that’s convenience and efficiency. Often times what the efficient thing to do is not the healthiest thing to do, right? It wouldn’t shock me if we couldn’t be logical and say a protocol is needed because it’ll be the hard thing to do. If that’s the case then so be it. I stand on what I say and I refuse to put myself in a hazardous situation to play a sport.”

White has said in the past that the Rockets, who selected him with the No. 16 pick in the draft, have been inconsistent with their support, untruthful in handling his situation and are not following the recommendations of the doctors he’s consulted in making a plan for him to join the team.

White said playing for another NBA team is not a solution, because there is no league-wide protocol for mental health issues.

“I don’t see that going to another team would help anything because no matter what team I go to a protocol is still going to need to be put in place,” he said. “It’s a league thing. The reality is that it is not Houston’s fault.

“I don’t really think going to another team is something that would be better. And it’s not something that I want to do. I want to play for Houston.”

White has been apart from teammates since the second week of the regular season. He underwent individual workouts at Toyota Center last week when the Rockets were on the road. The club then tried to assign him to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA D-League, as the second part of a plan to return. But White released a statement the following day saying he would not accept the D-League assignment.

The Rockets will not comment on their internal dealings with White.

Rockets’ White Won’t Go To D-League

HOUSTON — Nothing is ever as it seems for very long in the ongoing saga of Royce White and the Rockets.

Barely half a day after the team issued a release saying the rookie had been assigned to their NBA D-League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers, White issued his own statement that calls that news untrue and questions the sincerity of the Rockets organization.

The information that the Houston Rockets have publicly presented about this situation has been extremely misleading and a lot of times totally inaccurate. An image of support has been presented by the Rockets, but the only logical support here would be listening to the recommendation of the medical professionals involved. That has not totally happened here. I have chosen to not play, because the doctors and I believe it to be unsafe for unqualified Rockets front office personnel to make medical decisions, as they are not mental health professionals.

The 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa State, who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, has been at odds with the Rockets due to what he claims is their unwillingness to accommodate his condition. The team had re-worked his contract to make provisions for White to sometimes travel between games by bus, since anxiety about flying is one of the symptoms of his illness.

White did not report to the Rockets’ training camp in Hidalgo, Tex, home to the Vipers and, after getting no playing time in the first five games of the regular season, he went AWOL following a game at Memphis on Nov. 9. He remained at odds with the club when management insisted that he attend therapy sessions with a psychologist of their choosing, but has since agreed to terms and evidently been working to heal the wounds.

White resumed working out at the Toyota Center during the past week while the Rockets have been on the road. It was believed that an agreement to go to the D-League was part of a multi-week plan to fully integrate White back into the Rockets organization.