HOUSTON (AP) — Rockets first-round draft pick Royce White is currently away from the team and says the club has been "inconsistent" in its agreement to help him cope with his anxiety disorder.
The 6-foot-8 White, the 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft, made a deal with the team to travel by bus to some games this season, so he could confront his fear of flying and obsessive compulsive disorder over the long term. He flew with the team to its season opener in Detroit, then traveled by bus to games at Atlanta and Memphis.
He was not with the team for Monday's home game against Miami and also missed Tuesday's practice.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday that there have been “internal repercussions, which I’m not going to talk about.”
White played high school basketball at De La Salle until he was asked to leave the school and then played for Hopkins. He left the University of Minnesota without ever playing for the Gophers because of off-the-court issues and played one season for Iowa State before turning pro and being drafted by Houston.
The Rockets were planning to send White, along with two other players, to their D-League team -- the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He had yet to appear in a game for Houston, with migraines being cited as one of the reasons.
"In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder — due to the current situations at hand that involve the nature of actions from the Houston Rockets," White said in a statement released by his publicist Tuesday night. "As a rookie, I want to settle into a team and make progress; but since preseason, the Rockets have been inconsistent with their agreement to proactively create a healthy and successful relationship."
Houston general manager Daryl Morey also released a statement on Tuesday night, saying White "is not available right now. We are committed to his long term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward."
White's off-the-court issues were never a secret, but the Rockets felt as though he was worth the risks.
In one spectacular season at Iowa State, he became the only Division I player to lead his team in scoring (13.4 points per game), rebounds (9.3 per game), assists (five per game), steals (1.2 per game) and blocks (0.9 per game) and led the Cyclones to their first NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.
He missed the first week of training camp, though, to meet with the Rockets about creating an arrangement that he felt would help him balance his anxiety disorder with the demands of the NBA schedule.
White said on his Twitter account Tuesday that he is "most defiantly not AWOL" and that the team is aware of the reason for his current absence.
"Any other response is inaccurate," he said in his statement. "This is important to me, it is a health issue. I must advocate for my rights, it is a player-commodity league — the failure to meet my requests for support will end with me being unhealthy and that is not a consequence that I am willing to accept to play any sport."
The Rockets play New Orleans on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center. Coach Kevin McHale has also been away from the team since taking a leave of absence on Saturday to return home to Minnesota and deal with a family matter.
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