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June 23, 2018 | 4:44 pm EDT Update
Orlando Sentinel: From what you’ve seen of Mohamed Bamba already, what can he ultimately accomplish? What’s his ceiling? Steve Clifford: Oh, he has a tremendous upside. The NBA now is so much about two-way players, versatility and positional size. And he has all of those things. When you start watching him, this stands out right away: his size, length and agility. The rebounding part, the blocked-shot part — those are the things that strike you right away. But he also, to me, has a very good feel and instincts for the game naturally. He can read the defense. He can anticipate off the ball. I see someone who sees the game, and in this league, it’s hard to win if you can’t play a smart game. He’s going to play an intelligent, smart game, which in this league is paramount.
OS: You went out to San Jose to see Aaron Gordon. You could’ve just called him up on the phone. Why go out there? And how did that go? Steve Clifford: It was very good for me because I got to see him work out. When I first got here the first day, the three of us sat down — Jeff, John and I — and they gave me a good evaluation on all the players, where they’re at. So it was a great starting point for me. And they had told me what a great worker Aaron was. So when I went out there I watched him work out in the weight room and then also on the floor. And then we had a good chance to talk, too. So it was good. Obviously, there’s a big difference between talking to someone on the phone and meeting them face-to-face. In order to build the right type of player-coach relationship, which is so critical in this league, I just feel like the face-to-face part is much more beneficial.
Royce White: Here is a snapshot of my journey. In 2012 I was drafted by the Houston Rockets. I came into the NBA with COMPLETE DISCLOSURE of my pre-existing diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Despite the editorial intro that has so commonly been the synopsis of my story, my inability to manage anxiety WAS NOT the cause of my “career derailment.” My choice to live transparently, collaboratively and safely was. As my first season in the NBA approached, Houston and I began to discuss how to foster a supportive environment.
Royce White: My motivation was to connect some dots on the psychological psuedo-science I was presented with in my pre-draft process. During the discussions with Houston, my management team and I were shocked to discover there were NO FORMAL MENTAL HEALTH POLICIES. In response, I attempted to formalize a written agreement that would modify existing policies to encompass mental health. The proposal we suggested included ALL TEAM PERSONNEL, not just PLAYERS. That proposal was tacitly denied. It was during this time that birth was given to a narrative behind the scenes that I was simply ”AWOL” and non-compliant. This was mostly the work of Daryl Morey and maybe others that I am not aware of. That narrative was untrue and drove me to Twitter and other media outlets to exonerate myself.
Storyline: Rockets Front Office
Royce White: This season the world saw three very good NBA players (Kevin Love, Demar Derozan & Kelly Oubre) make global headlines. These men BRAVELY disclosed their own mental health struggles with the public. However, they were not the first and MORE IMPORTANTLY they won’t be the last. Recent studies have shown that athletes may be even more predisposed to mental health struggles than other citizens. …. The most notable case of a completely PROACTIVE approach in the NBA may certainly be my own. Sadly when I challenged policy and advocated for my own health, people within my own support system feared the peripheral effects of my public castigation. They worried many players wouldn’t discuss their plights going forward due to the condemnation that was crystallizing around my story. Although I didn’t want to believe it, they were somewhat right. Over the past 5-6 years I’ve been contacted by hundreds of players that have expressed many of their various mental health afflictions. Unfortunately many of them have also expressed an apprehension to share those afflictions with their team or the public.
June 23, 2018 | 3:03 pm EDT Update
It’s only natural to wonder if James might partner with his best friend and fellow free agent in Paul, and we’ve been wondering for six months or so if that might be the case. But while the Rockets appear resigned to the fact that James won’t be coming their way, they also remain fully confident that Paul is going nowhere. When Paul pushed his way from the Clippers to the Rockets via trade last June, there was a mutual understanding about how his next contract would look. It remains to be seen if it comes in the form of a five-year, $205 million max deal – one that would have him making a whopping $46.7 million in the final year of the deal while nearing the age of 38 – but there remains a strong sense within Rockets circles that he’s staying put.
Storyline: Chris Paul Free Agency