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More thoughts on the Royce White situation

Via ESPN:

“What it’s going to look like is every game that’s drivable, I’m going to get a bus for myself,” White said. “And I’m going to make that bus feel like home so that there’s a level of consistency in a job where inconsistency is very apparent because of the schedule. I’m going to try and level that out and make sure that my stress levels stay low and that my rest is regular and that my meals are regular and that as much as I can, draw consistency from a very inconsistent schedule. …

I can’t really quote the whole article here without filling up the page so take a look over there for context.  But essentially, part of the treatment outlined by Royce’s doctors is that he travel by bus to those games for which that can feasibly be done.
Most of what I said the other night still applies.  The Rockets need to handle this with sensitivity.  And I still do think that exceptions need to be made (more on this later.).  But now that this has come out, a few more thoughts:
  • First, I’ve seen in some places a sentiment that Royce needs to just suck it up and deal.  This is a misinformed opinion.  Mental health issues are real and while not completely understood, should not just be swept beneath the rug.
  • Having said that, Royce should not be coming public with this.  This sort of thing needs to be kept in-house.  I understand that there might be a desire to raise an awareness for the condition.  Throwing your new team under the bus (pun intended) is not the way to do it.  If he wants to negotiate terms with the team, that’s his entitlement, but he should not be putting the media on notice.
  • Why is this just now happening?  If you read my first thoughts, you know I have nothing but sympathy for Royce in this situation.  But I had presumed, with the facts that we had had, that it was some sudden panic with the onset of camp that caused him to not report.  Now it almost seems calculated.  Why wasn’t this arrangement worked out months ago?
  • Rockets management must be seething at the moment.  We don’t know whether they sought assurance that this problem was under control.  Royce himself said on draft night that the problem was behind him.  And it didn’t seem to affect him in Summer League.
  • There are legal implications here with regards to employee disability that could make this entire thing extremely sticky.  Part of why this should have been kept in-house.
  • Anyone saying that this isn’t a big deal is fooling himself.  Yes, it could end up, hopefully, being nothing.  The treatment could gradually help ease White’s anxiety and he could go on to have a very promising career.  This also could be the beginning of the end.  We don’t know.  What we do know is the importance of NBA training camp for a 20 year old.  And we know the importance of road trips and the bonds built through that camaraderie.  This is not a good start for Royce.  He could go on to make the All-Rookie team.  At this point, though, it would not be an uneducated opinion to state that its just as likely that he wastes away his entire rookie season.  Bottom line: we don’t know what’s going to happen, but this is a very, very big deal and cause for alarm.
  • I stand by my prognosis from the other night.  Kevin McHale needs to handle this the right way.  By all accounts, Royce White was his pick.  He needs to now own up to that and deal with this.  Burying White on the bench in some idealist fit is not the way to handle this.  Yes, Royce is to blame for this.  He should have informed the team ahead of time and asked for these accommodations earlier.  This is basically a holdout.  But this was McHale’s pick.  Punish him for a few weeks if you want, but this guy cannot be chained to the bench like Marcus Morris’ rookie year.  That simply cannot be allowed to happen.  I don’t care about chemistry.  The point of this year is to develop these players.
  • In fact, if I’m Morey, I’m calling McHale into my office and saying, “Look.  This was your pick.  You talked to Hoiberg.  I don’t care if you want to win games.  My job might be on the line and I’m not going to allow you to chain the 16th pick in the draft to the bench.  I don’t care if he doesn’t know the sets.  Catch him up to speed at home.”  The point of this year is player development.  Absolutely nothing should come in the way of that end.

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About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of Red94.net.

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