Kings sign Royce White to 10-day deal, assign ex-Rocket to D-League team

Royce White

The 76ers released Royce White (right) before the season. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

Will Royce White finally get the chance to make his NBA debut?

The 2012 first-round pick and unrestricted free agent has signed a 10-day contract with the Kings, the club announced Thursday. Sacramento immediately assigned White to their D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns.

USA Today Sports reported last week that the Kings were eyeing White, who hasn’t been on an NBA roster since he was released by the Sixers in October.

White, 22, was selected by the Rockets with the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft but he spent his entire rookie season on the sidelines in Houston, engaged in a months-long dispute with Rockets 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 make the determination on whether or not 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 appearances.

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 prior to the start of the regular season.

Rockets blog reported in January that Houston GM Daryl Morey referred to White, who won All-Big 12 First Team honors at Iowa State, as the “worst first-round pick ever” during a meeting with season ticket holders.

“I take some sort of pride that you could argue that Royce White is the worst first-round pick ever,” he said. “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, White told The Huffington Post in a video interview that he believed executives in the NBA 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.”

Sacramento enters Thursday’s action with a 22-39 record. The Kings recently opened up a roster spot by reaching a buyout with guard Jimmer Fredette.