Royce White and the Rockets might finally have found a resolution. (Nick Laham/Getty Images)
At long last, rookie Royce White finally appears to be getting closer to playing professional basketball under the Houston Rockets' umbrella.
It's been more than two weeks since the Rockets suspended White, who has yet to play a minute for Houston this season, without pay for "refusing to provide services" as part of an ongoing dispute between the team and its first-round draft pick over how to address the anxiety disorder from which he suffers. While tension around the anxiety issue began building shortly after Houston chose White with the 16th pick in the 2012 NBA draft when he missed the first few days of training camp, things didn't really boil over until White refused an assignment to the Rockets' D-League affiliate in protest of what he called "unsafe [...] medical decisions" made by "unqualified Rockets front office personnel [who] are not mental health professionals."
The stalemate's been a topic of conversation both nationally, with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and HBO's "Real Sports" airing recent features on White, and in Houston, where questions about whether the Iowa State product would ever suit up in Rockets red have consistently cropped up on blogs, message boards and local radio. White decided to join one such radio discussion on Wednesday, making a surprise phone call to a local morning show in which he addressed his disagreement with the Rockets — and said that, several months after the saga began, it could be nearing its end.
"Well, actually, you know, we're in the 12th hour of it being over," White told the hosts of the Madd Hatta Morning show on 97.9 FM The Box. "[...] Like, I think any hour now, this whole thing'll be over and I'm gonna be, I'm supposed to be returning to the D-League on February 11. So that was the plan. We'll see if it finally goes through, but the last thing I heard was that that's what we're gonna do, that's what we're planning to do, and we're just waiting on everybody to get the right paperwork and stuff like that."
Hours later, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that, according to a "person with knowledge of the plan," the Rockets are "close to making an announcement in which White would return to the team under a written agreement that includes key elements of the protocols that White wanted to have as an addendum to his contract." The add-on reportedly won't give decision-making power over items covered in the protocol to someone outside the organization, as White initially asked for, but still seems to represent the most significant step yet to resolving the ongoing dispute between player and team.
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