Report: Royce White Is Close To Returning To Basketball

Royce White called into a Houston radio station this morning and said a deal to return to the Houston Rockets, by way of their D-League affiliate, is in “the 12th hour.” Last June’s 16th overall NBA Draft pick has a warranted optimism for a return to playing basketball, not solely talking about the conditions that preclude him from doing so, because a revised deal with the Rockets that he’s long lobbied for is close to being finished, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Needless to say, this is very good news for everybody involved, especially after White said he was close to leaving the game altogether almost three weeks ago. In a small way, that statement was like reliving commissioner David Stern‘s “nuclear winter” assessment of labor talks in the fall of 2011, a point in each case that arguably signaled the lowest point of talks, yet with no reason to think it would get better, either. Instead, White is almost back to the court with team approval. The Chronicle recorded these quotes from his interview on 97.9 The Box today, where he says he’s close to returning because a central “issue” has been identified.

“The resolution, when I say we’re in the 12th hour, what I literally mean is we’re in the 12th hour .. .. any hour now this thing will be over,” White said. “I’m supposed to be returning to the D-league on February 11. That was the plan. We’ll see if it finally goes through but last thing I heard was that’s what we’re going to do, that’s what we’re planning to do. Waiting on everybody to get the right paperwork done and stuff.

“Everybody wants to make it seem like wild, wild west standoff between me and the Rockets. That’s not the case here. There has been an issue that’s been identified. Mental health is not descriptive enough in CBA (collective bargaining agreement) and UPC (uniform player contract.) It being so vague makes us make it up as we go. There’s no protocol. We need to rectify that to make sure the environment is safe. If we’re making it up as we go, … that’s probably not the safest thing.”

From the radio station’s report, which includes an link to listen to the 16-minute interview:

I have a number of mental issues and none of them are severe alone, for example my anxiety affects me on a daily basis but when exacerbated then it has physical symptoms, just like an physical injury. So if I had a heart condition, my heart would beat the same way with anxiety. So we put a plan into play to limit the exacerbations, obviously flying was one, so we are gonna do the bus to the games that you can make and it was all good! Then we started having some other communication issues and then I started having some serious exacerbations such as migraines I had never experienced before.

The Chronicle’s report doesn’t go into detail about how the deal was crafted, but you don’t agree to something like this — outside decision-making approval isn’t granted to White’s family or doctor, but he will apparently get some of the conditions he’s lobbied for — without compromise on each end. Though I have no intimate knowledge of the discussions, I doubt personally the two sides were all that far apart in the beginning. But from a disagreement grew a standoff that seemed to be the antithesis of effective communication, whether because each side wasn’t talking or instead allowed the media to be the sole go-between in order to put out each side’s message.

The saga isn’t over. He must report to D-League Rio Grande Valley, work back into playing shape (whatever he’s been doing, he still isn’t likely in game-ready condition), and then, oh yeah, earn a promotion to the Rockets. It’s not an easy proposition: fellow Houston rookie Terrence Jones, who showed so much promise so early, has played almost exclusively in the D-League this season. But that’s been the most refreshing thing about White in all of this: You can question his methods about getting to the actual hardwood but he has never given a reason to doubt his work ethic once he’s there. He just wants to put in the work knowing there is an established framework to keep him healthy. It appears the Rockets and White finally have one.

What do you think?

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