Kings' Royce White set for NBA debut
Sacramento signed White to a second 10-day contract on Tuesday. He spent the first one with the Kings' D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, with whom he averaged 8.8 points (on 36.7 percent shooting), 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 24.8 minutes. But White on Thursday practiced with the Kings (24-44) for the first time, and coach Michael Malone said the 6-foot-8 forward would play against San Antonio or Sunday against Milwaukee.
"“This whole process between Royce and the Sacramento Kings is about him as a basketball player,” Malone said, according to the Bee. “He did everything that we asked him to do up in Reno. He’s been tremendous while he’s been in Sacramento. No problems at all. No worries from our standpoint as a coaching staff. We’re going to expect him to do what everybody else is expected to do. Show up on time, work hard, pay attention, be disciplined and buy in to what we’re trying to do. He appears to be ready, willing and able to do that.”
White, 22, was selected by the Rockets with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft but spent his rookie season engaged in a months-long dispute with Houston management over the treatment of his mental health. White suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and a fear of flying, and he sought a formalized protocol to handle his mental health treatment as well as the appointment of an independent doctor -- “a medical point person” -- who would decide whether he would be cleared to play.
After a public back-and-forth with the Rockets that involved a suspension, White eventually suited up for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s D-League affiliate. The versatile forward averaged 11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 16 games.
Houston chose to resolve its issues with White by trading him to Philadelphia in July 2013. The Sixers brought White to camp and gave him a shot during the preseason but decided to release him before the start of the regular season.
Rockets blog ClutchFans.net reported in January that Houston general manager Daryl Morey referred to White, who earned All-Big 12 First Team honors at Iowa State, as the "worst first-round pick ever."
"I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever," he said during a meeting with season-ticket holders. "He's the only one that never played a minute in the NBA that wasn't just a foreign guy staying in Europe. It just shows we swing for the fence."
During his time away from the Rockets, White pulled no punches, appearing in an HBO feature to lay out his case for improving mental health treatment for NBA players.
“If I was an NBA player now without the protocols and safety measures,” he said, “I would be risking my health, risking my life. What comes along with mental health if left untreated? Alcohol abuse, marijuana abuse, suicidal behavior, homicidal behavior, those are things I’m not willing to risk to play basketball, to have money, to have fame. That’s it.”
In a March 2013 interview with The Huffington Post, White said he believed executives in the league office and the Rockets “want me gone” because of his advocacy for his mental health rights.
“If I was to make an educated guess, I would guess that Adam Silver and David Stern and the Rockets organization, some other owners in the league, GMs, want me gone,” White said in the interview. “And why do they want me gone? Because business is about convenience, it’s not about doing what’s necessary, right? It’s about cutting overhead… Being efficient. And a lot of times, what’s best for us as human beings doesn’t meet that criteria for business people.”
White said Thursday that he has questioned whether he'd ever play in the NBA.
"I’ve had that thought cross my mind a number of times,” White said, per the Bee. “But it came to pass, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get there and stay there.”SI.com's Ben Golliver contributed to this report.