Applauding the Rockets for their efforts to make his transition into the NBA as healthy as possible, rookie forward Royce White said he and the team have an agreement in place that will allow him to bus to selected games and he will return to the team on Monday.
White suffers from an anxiety disorder and his fear of flying is one of the issues connected to his illness.
He did not report to the Rockets training camp in McAllen while the two sides finalize the details and get approval from the NBA and the players union, which is standard for anything added to an NBA contract.
Earlier on Thursday White said he was waiting for that approval before he returned to the team.
Late Thursday night White told FOX 26 Sports enough has transpired that he decided to rejoin the team on Monday.
"There's something down on paper as far as a plan of attack," White said. "Not a letter per se, but it's a plan and we're both agreeing to it.
"We're just going to go forward. The Rockets have shown me no reason to think otherwise. Everything that they've done up to this point has been stellar as far as trying to advocate for helping me and supporting me in this illness.
"I see no reason why we can't go forward. The Rockets are willing to work with me and that's awesome and it speaks volumes to a change in the culture between industry and mental illness."
White looks forward to seeing how the plans he and the Rockets have developed help him transition into the NBA.
"Let's see if it helps to be able to bus when you can," White said. "I think that was a great step taken by the Rockets to be able to meet me on this one, and it was a great step in terms of mental illness being taken seriously in the workplace. I just think it's a very positive thing that happened all the way around.
"They've been stellar and what they pretty much are saying is that they don't care how I get to the games as long as I get to the games.
"They knew when they drafted me there was a fear of flying. That is a very real aspect of my life. There's no reason why it has to keep me from being successful on the court. There's definitely no reason why it should be allowed to keep me from being healthy and I think that that's the main point."
White, who said he will furnish the bus at his cost, said the details of how many games will work with travel of this kind is still being worked out.
"The idea of now logistically which ones and all of that hasn't really been all the way decided, but I think that we've got a pretty good idea in that sense, but it would be a bus and I did offer to provide it myself, obviously," White said.
"I think that it is a really great thing for them to allow me to do this and a lot of people are giving me, getting a bus, 'who does he think he is' kind of deal, but if you really think about it, it's not any more convenient for me to take a bus. So taking an eight-hour hike instead of a two-hour flight isn't like a special privilege. It's more so a measure that I'm willing to go to be successful and be healthy and they felt the same way."
White said traveling to cities by bus within the Rockets division, like New Orleans, Dallas and San Antonio make sense.
He also said he and the Rockets will look at the option of him taking buses in the middle of road trips after he flies to a specific city.
"To me it means everything," White said. "One of the things that I felt was important for me personally was that I was allowed to not hide anymore. Me talking about anxiety openly at Iowa State was one thing, but then to be able to ask for the support that I actually need, instead of having just going along and hoping do I come out on the other side, is a whole new type of honesty.
"Me having a fear of flying and that being one of my anxieties, obviously going from the amount of flights I took at Iowa State and almost tripling that or quadrupling that, isn't probably going to be healthy. We can predict that out into the future."
White said his agreement with the Rockets covers more than just his fear of flying.
"It's going to be very innovative," White said. "The plan is very unique and individual-based as is mental illness.
"The plan wasn't just about the fear of flying. That was kind of the meat and potatoes of it.
"The other things were very minuscule. There are things about diet in there. The number one thing is that we want to build a plan that promotes as much consistency as possible given the nature of the NBA schedule and the NBA life really.
"It meant a lot to me that the Rockets are willing to take a stand and say that they support people with mental illness being able to make it in the league."
White said it is fault he did not come to the Rockets sooner about getting his issues with travel resolved, but he pointed out his illness had a lot do with that as well.
"I will take full responsibility for that," White said. "You have to understand that with the disorder I have specifically, it was very worrisome, stressful for me to even make a decision to be able to ask for what I need.
"There was a certain amount of fear that went into me even stepping up and asking for what I need because, let's face it, the ramifications could have been a number of things, and one of those could have been me not being in the league come two years from now or even now.
"That was very scary for me personally. It came to a point where I really had to decide 'okay either you're going to step up and ask for what you need or deal with the consequences that may come if this isn't supported,' and I wasn't willing to do that in the end. So I felt the need to step up and ask.
White said he is looking forward to rejoining the Rockets and has already apologized to his teammates for not being with them during the early part of training camp.
"It's really difficult because as much as I believe that mental illness needs special attention and that there should be special attention paid to people who are forward and honest about what they need, I still spent (many) years of my life playing basketball with my teammates, and one of my biggest basketball philosophies is chemistry and flow," White said.
"So these things are what I believe great teams have in order to be successful, but at the same time, long-term, nobody is winning championships in November, October. So I think long-term taking the steps necessary to get to later in the season and be successful is obviously the goal.
"As much as I would love to be with my teammates now and I have open communication with them and that I apologize for my absence, I think that in the end it will be a great thing."
White's teammates have reached out to him.
"They were great about it," White said. "They understand and they said 'you know what, just do what you need to do to get here' and that response was really good for me and I appreciated that a lot.
"People like Chandler (Parsons), Patrick (Patterson), Toney Douglas, Marcus Morris, people like that, and there are other people who text too. It's been great. The communication between the teammates and myself has been great.
When contacted by FOX 26 Sports, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey declined comment.
However, he did issue a statement Tuesday showing support for White.
"We are committed to Royce's long-term success and we will continue to support him now and going forward," Morey said in his statement released by the team.