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Royce White refusing assignment to D-League. Ugh.

Dec 30, 2012, 2:21 PM EDT

Royce White AP

For a second time this season, the Houston Rockets have assigned Royce White — the No. 16 overall pick from the last draft — to their D-League team. And for the second time he has refused the assignment.

And from here it’s just hard to see him ever playing a moment for the Rockets.

After a six-week absence from the team as White and the Rockets disagreed over the best course of action to help him play and deal with his anxiety disorder, White had returned to working out at the team facilities this week. Then the Rockets assigned White to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But White is refusing the assignment, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. White released a statement which is in full on the Chronicle Web site (this is a portion of it):

I do wish to play, but I only intend to do so with the collaboration and recommendation of trained professionals. The purpose of a doctor’s confirmation is to ensure that health decisions are made in the sole interest of health and not conflicted with business. My only hope is that decision makers involved realize that doctors are the only logical source to decide action.

There is an admitted lack of knowledge on behalf of the Rockets and the NBA, it becomes transparent as they choose to forego the knowledge of trained professionals and make independent decisions for something as complex as mental health without consulting any doctors. The Rockets have told me in recent conversations that it is their right to decline even their own doctors’ recommendations. The concept of not listening to medical consultants in medical situations is alarming. It is also alarming that a player is susceptible to fines for simply adhering to the recommendation of doctors.

It is true that accommodating mental health can be very tough and complex, however, sometimes the only reasonable solution to doing what is right is doing what is tough. To portray that the Rockets have been supportive to me is fundamentally incorrect.

White has said continuously that he has not gotten enough if any support from the Rockets organization to help him be a functioning NBA player. The Rockets have been supportive publicly but have said in multiple reports that they have tried a number of steps to accommodate White but that he has not followed through on his end.

I’m not going to pretend to know what is the appropriate way to deal with White’s disorder (my psych minor only gets me so far). My understanding is that one of the ways to best deal with the anxiety is a regular routine schedule, but that is something nearly impossible to do with the travel and varied games times of an NBA team. There clearly is no easy solution.

But the idea of White getting some burn in the D-League before coming up to the NBA squad makes basketball sense.

And more importantly for White, slamming your employer in public — while not having played a game for them — does not help make your point or case to a broader public. If his goal is to show Rockets fans and everyone else that the Rockets are in the wrong here and are not helping him properly, these kinds of statements (not to mention twitter rants) defeat his own purpose. He loses the battle of perception with these things and that hurts his overall cause.

Really, from here it’s just hard to imagine White and the Rockets ending up on the same page, or at least close enough to that page where he would join the team and play.

In other Rockets news, they are adding to their roster on the perimeter, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network.


  1. phreakin - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Sounds like he knows he can get more for suing the NBA for not “helping” him with his “disease”. What a crock. Plenty of people in the world have anxiety, me included and we manage to do our job

  2. hybes1 - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:16 PM

    While I have some empathy for the kid, but this looks like more of a personal crusade for this kid. I think his agent has totally gotten his client screwed with possibly any other team who may want to deal with him if or when he gets released. I think this kid just doesn’t want to play for the Rockets

  3. hybes1 - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    I hope this doesn’t change into a legal action due to not providing accommodation for mental health. His statement including the NBA stands out as well

  4. pacific123ocean - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:55 PM

    I have a feeling that if the Rockets played Royce 15+ minutes/game, he wouldn’t have a problem with any of this off-court stuff.

  5. nickhoberg - Dec 30, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    This guy has had issues mental and ego since high school and college. He just needs to go away. I get he doesn’t like to fly but not wanting to play for the d league has nothing to do with his mental well being other than his ego taken a hit. Rockets hoped to have the steal of the draft but have a bum instead.

  6. bellerophon30 - Dec 30, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    Isn’t there some kind of language in his contract about failure to perform? Or at least be willing to perform? 99% of the time I’m pro player when it comes to disputes, but I guess this is the 1%. I hope he’s realizing how badly he’s poisoning the well for future athletes like him. The next Royce White will not get drafted, and have to catch on from the bottom. A sad case.

  7. 32magicman - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:34 PM

    My daughter is also scared of getting on a plane. She is 2. But she did it after we promised her an ice cream. This halfwit wont even do it for millions of dollars.

  8. mikeincmn - Dec 30, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    I feel bad for the guy because he does have issues and is clearly struggling to get through them. The sad thing is he has probably set back the chances of a player who does come forward with mental or emotional issues to be embraced or accepted by an NBA team.

    I have been very patient with White throughout this because only he knows what he is feeling, but he has slid over to now just looking/acting like a massive diva.

  9. dko83 - Dec 31, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    I hear China has a decent pro leauge. But how to get there…

  10. halfbaht - Dec 31, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Why haven’t Houston just cut this kid already? in the words of Stephen A. Smith “he’s a scrub”

  11. 06mustang - Jan 6, 2013 at 1:45 AM

    Phobias can be overcome. Medication, counselors and support groups are available under most health plans. And you can bet the benefits of an NBA player are at least as good as ours.

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