I found it rather comical when some Thunder fans back in June salivated for the services of Royce White.
It just didn’t add up, White and the Thunder. Talented as White might be, it was clear to anyone who has paid attention that his past was too sketchy and his future too uncertain for the Thunder’s taste. He was such a risk that he might have been the last guy the Thunder would have drafted.
Thanks to Houston selecting the former Iowa State standout 16th overall — taking the opportunity away from the Thunder 12 slots later — we’ll never know. But what we do know is that on the first day of the 2012-13 season, White’s checkered character already is catching up to him.
While most of the Rockets began training camp in McAllen on Tuesday, an unmistakable shadow was cast by a player that was not there. Rookie forward Royce White did not attend the Rockets media day on Monday and did not travel with the team to McAllen for the start of two-a-day practices because of what the team termed “a personnel matter.” The Rockets would not elaborate. Asked when he expected White to join the team, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said, “I have no idea.”
So not only did dude not show up to his first day on the job (media day), but he also skipped the first team flight and essentially said “Nah, I’m good” to the first day of practice. Add to that, not even his coach knows when to expect him.
That, right there, folks is the definition of a head case.
Granted, these absences generally require the benefit of the doubt going to the player. It could be a family emergency keeping White away from his team. If that were the case, it’d be pretty insensitive to call White a head case. But clearly that’s not what’s in play here. Just consider Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s reaction.
Asked if White’s absence should be considered excused, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey paused for 10 seconds and said “I think, no comment.”
Thunder fans, or at least those who chomped at the bit for White, should let this be a lesson. In Thunderland, for as long as Sam Presti is running the show, character wins out every time over talent. Love it or hate it that’s the way it is. But it sure beats the alternative, which the Rockets find themselves stuck with now — having no idea whether one of their three prized first-round picks will show up to their preseason opener against the Thunder in eight days.