Royce White making 100 flights in a season? ‘Hell no,’ he says

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The Rockets knew what they were getting when they drafted Royce White, and even more so, the 76ers knew what they were getting when they traded for him.

White is, I think, a talented player, but I can’t say that with much certainty, because he’s never played in the NBA. His anxiety issues, which include a fear of flying, complicated his relationship with Houston as a rookie last year, and they’re not going away in Philadelphia.

Randy Peterson of USA Today:

Royce White is ready to play in the NBA, probably for the Philadelphia 76ers, once the trade from Houston becomes official.But making 100 plane flights during a season?”Hell no,” the former Iowa State basketball star said after playing for the Walnut Creek YMCA Wednesday night in the YMCA Capital City League at Valley Southwoods Freshman High School.”One hundred flights would be like if you’re allergic to peanut butter – it’d be like spreading your whole body with it.”

I wish White the best, both personally and professionally. He’s clearly struggling to balance both aspects of his life.Unfortunately, his NBA career is passing him by. White’s team can do its best to accommodate him, but on a fundamental level, NBA players must fly to get to games. If White can’t do that, there’s not a spot for him in the league.I’d love to see the big forward with point-guard skills in action, but there are still so many hurdles to clear. Frankly, I’m a little surprised a team took him off Houston’s hands – unless the 76ers accepted White’s salary to get the rights to Furkan Aldemir.I wouldn’t close the book on White’s NBA career, but this statement shows how far there is to even getting it started.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.