- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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DALLAS -- You already know by now that Royce White is a candid young man.
If he’s proven anything in his first few weeks as a Houston Rockets rookie -- here and here, for example -- it’s that White’s willingness and openness in talking about his battles with mental illness are seemingly limitless.
So it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that White didn’t hold back Monday night when asked to assess his first taste of an NBA game: 23 bumpy minutes in the Rockets’ 123-104 exhibition loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
“I thought I played pretty bad,” White said.
The 21-year-old certainly looked somewhat shell-shocked during his first-half stint, starting 0-for-3 from the floor thanks partly to two hurried heaves to try to beat the shot clock, one of which got swatted and the other missing the rim completely.
Yet with one coast-to-coast drive in the second half for his first pro points, pulling in a rebound at one end and getting all the way to the other basket for a three-point play, White gave us a peek at the athleticism and all-around skills that convinced the Rockets to make him the 16th pick in the June draft no matter what special arrangements would be necessary to get White to their games.
There was also a nifty feed to Gary Forbes that, even without a scoring finish from Forbes, caught the eye because of the size of the 6-foor-8, 260-pounder leading the break.
“I felt a little more relaxed,” White said of the second-half response that enabled him to finish with seven points in 23 minutes.
The long-term travel arrangements, meanwhile, are still being hashed out. In this instance, after sitting out Houston’s first three exhibition games following his absence at the start of training camp, White traveled by chauffeured car from Houston after Sunday’s home game against San Antonio and arrived in Dallas shortly after 10 p.m. on Sunday night.
Some nights, of course, traveling via driver or even on the fancy bus he’s looking to buy for the longer rides that demand sleep won’t be feasible. Choices will inevitably have to be made: Ask White to fly or scratch him from the lineup.
The Rockets, though, have yet to start circling games on the schedule that they expect White to miss. The planning, in conjunction with the league office and the NBA Players Association, hasn’t gotten that far quite yet. The Rockets, at this stage, simply say that they’re prepared to continuously work with White and his support group to help coordinate his travel.
Yet White wants to stress that he’s quite hands-on when it comes to the planning. Again: Not a surprise given the great lengths he’s gone to this month to try to explain some of the aspects of the generalized anxiety disorder which plagues him.
“I deal with different anxieties,” White said. “(Fear of) flying is the meat and potatoes of it, but it’s more than just flying. That’s why I have to be really involved in the planning, so everybody knows what I do need and what I don’t need.”
And for the record: White had a quick retort when one reporter (OK, it was me) asked him to assess what sort of physical drain could have been inflicted by the four-hour car ride down Interstate 45 to get to the site of his NBA debut in Big D.
“I think it took a lot less out of me than flying would have,” White said. “Physically sitting there has its effects ... but so does being on a plane.”
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