Royce White has been extremely public in his battle with the Rockets to come up with a plan to handle his anxiety disorder. White has an overwhelming fear of flying, so much so that he had requested his team work with him to develop a plan that would manage his disorder while still allowing him to play. Houston seemed willing to do that.
Yet, here we are halfway through what would have been White's rookie season and White has not stepped onto the court at all.
It appears, finally, White is close to making his NBA debut.
The Rockets announced Saturday that they have reinstated Royce White and assigned him to their D-League affiliate, ending the drawn-out negotiations about how best to handle White's much-publicized anxiety issues. Both the league and the Players' Association approved the plan for handling White's anxiety issues and the plan is reported to address major concerns both the Rockets and White had.
White is expected to make his D-League debut on or about February 11.
White has spent the first half of his season arguing with the Rockets over whether their protocols served his needs while still allowing him to play. White argued they did not. The Rockets argued that they were still working with him and that they still expected him to play.
The debate between the two was very public (mostly White's doing) and sometimes ugly.
White was shining a light on anxiety disorders in a very public manner, bringing out of back rooms discussions about mental health and how it affects job performance. But, at the same time, White's approach was sometimes stand-offish publicly and it made him seem immature and too difficult to be worth the trouble.
There was definitely some misunderstandings between the two sides and they finally came to an agreement to get him on the court. This is undoubtedly what is best for everyone. Both the Rockets and White needed to get him on the court, doing what he is best at doing — playing basketball.
White, when he is playing, is a dynamic player. At 6-foot-8, White has the power to muscle around in the paint and the ability to dribble and drive in the open floor. At least, he did in college. At Iowa State, White averaged 13.4 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game, shooting 53.4 percent from the floor. He was selected with the 16th pick.
But White's one year at Iowa State were marred by and trailed the concerns about his anxiety disorder. He transferred from Minnesota where the excess air travel to get around the Big Ten at times caused problems and friction with his team.
Again, the Rockets knew this was an issue to tackle when they drafted White.
The important thing now is that White will be back on a basketball court. The D-League will allow him to get back into game shape while he and the Rockets work out the details of whatever plan he and the Rockets have agreed to. Perhaps this is the first step for teams to treat anxiety disorders like this as regular injuries, as White suggests. This is precedent setting for sure and that led to a lot of the frustration with White and his public reaction and anger with the whole situation.
Now, at last, they can put this behind them and begin to play some basketball.