Royce White didn’t fly with Sixers to Europe

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Right now, the Philadelphia 76ers are in one of the world’s most interesting cities, Bilbao, Spain. From there they will travel on to Manchester, England, (which is kind of interesting) to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Royce White is not with them.

White battles an general anxiety disorder — which has a number of symptoms, among them a fear of flying — and while he said he wanted to go to Europe with the team the team let him stay, coach Brett Brown told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“It really was just based on our team doctor giving me and Sam (Henkie, Sixers GM) and the club advice that it may be best for him to remain at home,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of White’s absence. “You know we are with him. We will support and help him.”

This is well handled by the Sixers — is the anxiety and distraction of some very long flights really worth it to have him suit up for preseason games? No.

Every time I write about White the comments and my twitter timeline fill up with “just get on the plane” lines from people who lack either understanding or empathy (both of which are kind of sad). White is battling a recognized mental illness, there are legitimate concerns. Yes, he has been brash in talking about how the league doesn’t help players like him but rather treats them as replaceable parts — and he’s not wrong about that. This can be a cold business. But his style has not won over the casual basketball fan,  and the only way he’s ever really get leverage in this fight is to get on the court and perform well.

We’ll see if that ever happens. In the end, the NBA’s travel-heavy lifestyle and White just may not be able to mesh.

I think the Sixers are handling this well. Give him space and time, have him at training camp and see how it works. Don’t push him into a long flight to Spain.

Philadelphia brought him in with limited expectations, if it works out great if not they save money when they let his contract expire. White is a 6’8” guy with the skills to potentially play some point forward, and he had moments where he looked good for the Rockets’ D-League affiliate (he averaged 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a game).

Hopefully we’ll get to see him in some NBA preseason action this season to start. Then we’ll see what’s next.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.