Countdown to 2013 King of Content: 5. Royce White
I know right about now, after he assembled a roster that includes the acquisition of arguably the two best players in the league at their respective positions within nine months of each other, that to say, "Hey, not all of Daryl Morey's moves have been that great" sounds like blasphemy.
But, it's worth noting, Morey did use a first round draft pick on Royce White in 2012. Hey, nobody's perfect.
(NOTE: Admittedly, Morey has been damn near perfect, on the sliding scale of perfection you'd apply to sports GMs, over the past couple of years in assembling this roster, and truth be told, what you're about to read has head coach Kevin McHale's fingerprints on it as well.)
In the 2012 draft, the Rockets went into draft night with three first round picks, the 12th, the 16th and the 18th picks overall. Conventional wisdom had them flipping those picks for a higher pick or an impact player, but instead they went ahead and, surprisingly, used all three selections.
At 12, they drafted UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who became an integral part of the trade that brought James Harden to Houston in late October.
At 18, they drafted Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who has become a key rotation player this season, and looks like a budding star.
And then at 16, they drafted Iowa State's Royce White, who for the Rockets became a walking migraine, a human hemorrhoid and a poster child for how not to handle mental illness with your employer.
College basketball fans had become quite familiar with White during 2012's March Madness, when for about 30 minutes he was the best player on the floor in a "round of 32" (hate calling it "third round"...HATE) game against eventual champion Kentucky (a team that included not only Jones but future first overall pick Anthony Davis). He led the Cyclones that season in scoring, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
White was a stat sheet stuffer extraordinaire. But he also dealt with an anxiety disorder that made it, at best, difficult for him to fly to games on airplanes, which is, y'know, kind of necessary if you're going to have a career in Houston, where the closest NBA city is 200 miles away. The Rockets obviously felt they had done sufficient due diligence, and as seen in a Grantland piece following White's draft night travails, it became obvious that White had an advocate in the Rockets' war room that night in Kevin McHale, who had worked with White's college coach, Fred Hoiberg, in their Minnesota Timberwolves days. So the Rockets took White with the 16th pick, and what did they get out of him?
Well, if you're counting basketball, not very much. One round of summer league games, a few February D-League games in Rio Grande, before White shut it down for good in March to focus on working out on his own (which, judging by White's condition in his brief D-League stint, actually involves very little working out, but plenty of carbo loading).
Now, if you're counting drama, well, White was LeBron Freaking James!
Employee ingrate drama? You got it. White made continual implications that the Rockets weren't holding up their end of the promised deal when it came to special transportation for White. I'm not sure whose fault this was, but one side or the other apparently was altering the deal more than Darth Vader's deal with Lando in Empire Strikes Back.
Baby momma drama? Oh yes, times several! As of springtime, there were several little Royce White offspring bouncing around society, to the point where it was a little surprising when we'd go a few months without news of a new baby momma (or at least accusations of such).
Domestic violence drama? There was one story, which White quickly refuted, so I'll merely point out that...well, that there was one story, which White quickly refuted.
Eventually, as he seems to be able to do every time, Morey was able to undo one of his rare misses (flipping Trevor Ariza's multi-year deal was the previous gold standard), sending White to the Philadelphia 76ers (in a deal struck with former Morey underling Sixers GM Sam Hinkie) with a certified check and the paperwork on Furkan Aldemir stapled to White's face.
By October, Royce White was cut loose from the Sixers, and presumably now has all day to tweet at Kevin Durant when Durant's jump shot looks "shaaaaky."
Big ups to Royce White, whose eight posts are good enough to grab the number five spot on the countdown to King of Content 2013. Here are those posts:
January 24, 2013: Royce White Close To Returning To The Houston Rockets April 12, 2013: Uh-Oh, Royce White May Have Knocked Up Another Groupie #BeWell May 2, 2013: Royce White Trash Tweets Kevin Durant July 1, 2013: Royce White (@Highway_30) Is Saying Weird Things On Twitter Again September 4, 2013: Former Rocket Royce White Under Investigation for Domestic Violence September 6, 2013: Royce White Responds to Domestic Abuse Allegations September 18, 2013: Former Rocket Royce White Is Literally the Worst (According to ESPN.com) October 25, 2013: #BeWell: Former Rocket Royce White Cut By The Philadelphia 76ers
PREVIOUS COUNTDOWN POSTS:
Starting January 3, 2014, listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.