The Sacramento Kings will sign Royce White to a ten day contract.
White, was a star at Iowa State and would have been a top draft pick, if not for his anxiety issues which make it difficult for him to be in large crowds, fly on airplanes, handle pressure, and other situations that arise in the life of a professional basketball player. However, Houston’s GM Daryl Morey took a chance on White’s massive upside by drafting him 16th overall (a incredibly moving story that Grantland documented here). Unfortunately, White did not fit well with the team and was traded to the Sixers, who waived him after a short stint. Since then White has seen some D-League action, but is generally regarded as too big of a risk by most executives in the league.
Whereas some may have hated themselves for their anxiety, White has embraced his condition and become a leading mental health advocate, using Twitter as his soapbox. White tweets encouraging messages to his “Anxiety Troopers,” states his motto of “Be Well,” takes his criticism with maturity, and responds with optimism. White may not be a perfect role model, but his commitment to himself and advocacy for mental health are an inspiration.
Sacramento’s new management has been welcoming of potentially risky players this season, buying low on talented players such as Rudy Gay, Derrick Williams, and now White. White will be a good fit in Sacramento because the Kings already have three veteran power forwards in Jason Thompson Carl Landry, and Quincy Acy who could help White acclimate to the NBA with their calming presence. They, along with Williams, will be taking the majority of the minutes, meaning that White will face little pressure to perform at a high level consistently and could quickly become a fan-favorite garbage time player.
Sacramento’s small-market fan base is slow to condemn players and quick to love them, should White play to the level he is capable, he will soon have a loyal and supportive following. Furthermore, with the Kings just beginning to transition out of rebuilding mode, there will be plenty of time to bring White along slowly and hopefully develop him into a very productive player. Optimistically, White would bring talent not seen since Webber to Sacramento’s power forward position and would compliment the Kings’ resident alpha dog Boogie Cousins.
White has all the talent necessary to be a star in this league, it’s just a matter of whether or not he can harness that talent. The Kings have a reputation for mishandling young players, but that is largely a holdover from the Maloof-Petrie era. An effective development of White would not only change the culture of dysfunction that looms over the franchise, but would also add a key cog to a team that fancies itself to be in playoff contention within the next couple of seasons.
If ever there was a player who needed the right team, and a team that needed the right player, Royce White and Sacramento are them.
Welcome to Sacramento Royce, Be Well.