Royce White still not with Rockets, attacks Wojnarowski on twitter

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One of the key lessons in life, for some people one of the hard ones to learn, is to pick your battles. When to let some things just go in pursuit of a more important, larger goal.

With that in mind, we bring you two bits of news about Royce White, the No. 16 pick of the Houston Rockets who has an anxiety disorder and does not feel the Rockets have done enough to support him.

First, he is still not with the team and there is no timetable for his return, reports the Houston Chronicle. Rockets GM Daryl Morey said the two sides are “talking things through” but he has not been with the team for two weeks and it is not clear when White may return.

Second, White took to twitter — his preferred medium of public communication — on Saturday to attack Yahoo Sports writer (and NBC Sports Network NBA Insider) Adrian Wojnarowski for a week-old article saying what a lot of people around the league have been saying: That in his quest for what he sees as fair treatment for his disorder he is throwing his NBA career away.

 

 

White had nearly 30 tweets going after Wojnarowski, some pointing out things listed in the article saying they are not true (specifically that there were concerns about playing time that led him to leave the Rockets). Woj has, as of now, not responded on twitter.

White wants to change the perception of what people with an anxiety disorder can do with the proper support. He wants to create awareness.

But the only way he can really do that is to be an active, contributing member of an NBA team.

Wojnarowski is no doubt one of the — if not THE — biggest name basketball journalist out there but he is also not the guy standing between White and playing in the NBA. What Wojnarowski wrote in that article is the perception around the league when you talk to teams, no matter what White thinks of it. Woj didn’t create the perception, and he’s not the one that can change it.

Publicly, the Rockets have been very supportive of White. But privately they will tell you all the things they have done for White, including allowing him to take a bus to many of the team’s away games and getting his a psychologist to see in the area. White and the Rockets clearly still do not agree on what the level of support should be.

I’m not going to pretend to know what the best course of treatment and what the best way for the Rockets to help White is. That is something for him and his doctors to work out with the team in the talks reportedly going on. This is not a simple situation with easy answers. But if White wants to change the perception of him he can only do that as a member of the Rockets.

From the outside, from where I sit, sometimes it doesn’t feel like Royce White’s primary goal is to be an NBA basketball player. Maybe it is, but this comes back to perception and it doesn’t feel like that is what he wants more than anything else. And maybe that’s a good decision for him, maybe this to him is a fight for something much bigger and more important (and if so attacking Wojnarowski is a distraction from that). But know that the feeling around the league is that if he is not committed there are a hundred guys in line behind him who may not be as talented but are fully committed. And teams would rather have those guys on the roster. That is not what Wojnarowski made up, that is what is being said.

And again, the only way for White to achieve those goals is as the member of an NBA team.

I really hope this ends up working out for both White and the Rockets. I’m not sure I see the path to that happening right now, but I hope it does.

LaVar Ball on Luke Walton: “They’re soft. They don’t know how to coach my son.”

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Luke Walton is trying to create a professional environment around his young Lakers’ core. One where they expect the players to put in extra work without being told they have to, one where the coaches guide the development, but it’s ultimately the player in charge of his own course. Basically, Walton is treating his young players like adults and is asking them to respond to it like professional adults. It’s what he’s seen Steve Kerr do in Golden State and it works. It’s how Gregg Popovich has created a dynasty in San Antonio.

LaVar Ball sees the world very differently. He’s old school, from the “do as I say” mold.

So it shouldn’t be a shock that after the Lakers’ ugly loss last Friday to the Suns, the Lakers media spoke to LaVar Ball about his son’s play and Ball took a shot at the Lakers’ coach. Here are the quotes, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

“They’re soft. They don’t know how to coach my son. I know how to coach him,” LaVar Ball said. “I tell him to go get the victory. Stop messing around.”

Does he have a problem with coach Luke Walton?

“No, I have a problem with losing,” Ball responded.

I have multiple thoughts here, which means bullet points.

• I am breaking my own rule with this post, which is “don’t cover LaVar Ball, he’s just meaningless click bait.” I debated the point, but I think there is a legitimate basketball reason to cover this post (keep reading).

• Things Luke Walton cares more about than what LaVar Ball thinks of his coaching style: How much extra guacamole costs at Chipotle; if Netflix has “Golden Girls” to stream; what shoes Lakers’ sideline reporter Mike Trudell is wearing during postgame interviews; which Van Halen album “Dance the Night Away” is on; which show won the 1974 Tony for Best Musical.

Lonzo Ball‘s struggles with his shot this season — 31.3 percent overall, and he is struggling from three and around the rim — are well documented. It’s clear he is in his own head about it at this point. What can keep him there longer is conflicting advice from his father and his coach. So far, Lonzo seems to be siding with the coaching staff, for example, he credited assistant coach Brian Shaw for telling him to rebound more aggressively, then push the ball himself. LaVar will want to take credit for that, too. Lonzo needs to listen to his coaches, take his father’s advice for what it’s worth, and find his path.

• LaVar is lucky that the level-headed, mature-for-his-age, hard-working Lonzo was his oldest son. Just from what I see on the outside, not sure either of the other two Ball children could have handled this scrutiny nearly as well.

• Luke Walton is working to create something sustainable with the Lakers, they are not going to let anything (or anyone) bump them off that path.

PBT Podcast: Breaking down rookie class’s start to NBA season

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Markelle Fultz has barely seen the court. Lonzo Ball has had a couple of triple-doubles but his shot is way off, and he’s drawing extra scrutiny thanks to his father. Right now, Danny Ainge looks like the smartest guy in the room trading down and walking away with Jayson Tatum. Some of the best players out of this draft early — Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell — were drafted well down the board.

It’s been a draft class with real highs, some ugly lows, some polarizing figures — and Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it down.

They go through all the guys taken in the lottery and discuss what they have seen, then talk about some of the guys outside the draft who have had strong seasons so far.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.