Sacramento Kings focus on assessing Royce White’s talent, not baggage, on 10-day deal

Strictly business.

It’s a statement that appropriately describes the Sacramento Kings’ decision to sign Royce White.

The Kings offically made the move earlier this week, inking the 22-year-old forward to a 10-day contract, then immediately assigning him to their D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. Since being selected 16th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft, White has yet to appear in a regular-season NBA game due to his highly publicized fight with anxiety disorder.

For the new Kings’ front office, they are looking at their signing of White like many things in their tenure thus far – as a process. Right now, their primary focus is on assessing White’s NBA potential and upside. Any baggage he may bring from his struggles with mental health are secondary at this point.

“We’re not making too much out of it,” Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro said to Cowbell Kingdom recently of the decision to pluck White out of basketball purgatory. “This is a 10-day basketball contract for a guy that wants a chance and we want to give him that chance.”

The Kings’ actions so far have been a reflection of their words. No special arrangements have been made between the Kings, Bighorns and White’s camp on how to handle his anxiety issues. The Bighorns’ staff has been instructed to treat White just like any other player and White has fully cooperated.

“We did some research about him,” Bighorns coach Joel Abelson told CK on this week’s Cowbell Kingdom Podcast. “Ty Ellis, on my staff, knows (Iowa State head coach) Fred Hoiberg really well and he coached (White) in college and he said just treat him like a normal guy.

“It’s not fair to us and to our players to cater everything around anybody,” Abelson added. “Nobody’s bigger than our team. He’ll be treated like anybody else and I think he’ll flourish and he’ll do very well.”

White arrived in Reno on Wednesday and got the chance to practice ahead of his first game last night against the Idaho Stampede. He started for the Bighorns, but looked rusty in his first professional contest since a training camp stint with the Philadelphia 76ers. In just under 26 minutes of play, White finished with five points, two assists, four rebounds and three turnovers.

But White did show flashes of his tantalizing potential. Abelson has given White the greenlight to be a facilitator and playmaker in the Bighorns’ offense and the 22-year-old forward seemed to take advantage of that opportunity. At times, he was able to showcase his court vision, deft passing skills and ball-handling ability – all reasons why White was a first-round draft choice in 2012.

For the Kings and White, this tryout is an opportunity that both sides are fully embracing. The Kings now have nine more days to evaluate White’s potential prospects. White, meanwhile, has been given another shot to prove that he’s worthy of being in the NBA.

D’Alessandro seems to think White is headed down the right path. From their meeting and workout that led to his signing, the 22-year-old forward left an impression on the Kings’ general manager that he’s serious and determined about this new chance to get back in the league.

“The focus in our conversation was just – this is about basketball,” D’Alessandro said of his talks with White. “That’s what this is about. And getting back on the court is something that he wants to do.

“Because he doesn’t have to do this right now,” D’Alessandro added, noting that White is still receiving an additional paycheck due to the two-year guaranteed deal players get as first-round picks. “He chose to do this right now. This is his decision.”

Will White ever suit up in a Kings uniform? That remains to be seen. However, the Kings will do their due diligence over the next nine days to thoroughly answer that question.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.