The Rockets have agreed to trade forward Royce White to the Sixers, according to multiple reports.
Yahoo! Sports reports Houston will receive future draft considerations and cash in the deal. USA Today Sports reports Houston will send the rights to Turkey’s Furkan Aldemire, a 2012 second-round pick, to Philadelphia.
The move clears White’s $1.7 million contract from Houston’s books, helping clear room for the acquisition of All-Star center Dwight Howard. New Sixers GM Sam Hinkie was an assistant GM with the Rockets before he was hired earlier this summer.
The free-agent negotiating period opened Monday. Contracts can’t officially be signed and trades can’t officially be consummated until July 10.
The trade agreement ends a messy marriage between the Rockets and White, a 2012 first-round pick who never suited up for a single game last season because he was involved in a months-long dispute with the Rockets 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.
The No. 16 pick in the 2012 NBA draft twice refused assignments to the D-League’s Rio Grande Vipers last season. Back in November, he stopped attending Rockets games and practices and he remained away from the organization until he made his debut for the Vipers on Feb. 12. The Rockets imposed a suspension Jan. 6, due to his failure to report to the Vipers, but reinstated White in late-January, when the two sides issued a joint statement announcing an agreement. White later announced he was leaving the Vipers in March but quickly reversed course. Along the way, he pulled no punches, appearing in an HBO feature to lay out his case.
“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.”
White also 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.”
In a November letter to White revealed during the HBO feature, Rockets GM Daryl Morey expressed a desire to accommodate White’s requests but also some frustration with his absence.
“We have bent over backwards to accommodate your requests and help you meet these goals,” the letter read. “At our meeting yesterday, I spent significant time addressing your frustrations. I would like to take this opportunity to further explain how your actions and the changing nature of your explanations for your actions has frustrated our attempts to help you meet your goals. The bottom line is that we remain willing to work with you on issues that arise from legitimate medical need, but you have to come to games, practice and everything else that you are able to do, just like any other player.”
Rockets — Grade: A+.
It’s hard to remember a time when a swift, clean break was needed as badly as in this situation. It was next to impossible to imagine White finding a way to redeem his NBA career in Houston. The bridges were just torched. For the Rockets, he’s somebody else’s problem now. With Howard in the fold, they have much bigger fish to fry. The first-round pick they wasted on White has long since been forgotten.
Sixers — Grade: A.
Whether White gets a chance for a second chapter in Philadelphia remains to be seen. The rebuilding Sixers can take on White as a project or as a trade chip; his minuscule salary is of no real concern. Houston surely made it worth Philadelphia’s while to complete the move and Hinkie picked up the rights to Aldemire along the way.