Rockets Suspend White for Refusing Development League Assignment

The Houston Rockets suspended rookie Royce White a week after he declined to play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the National Basketball Association’s Development League.

“The Houston Rockets have suspended Royce White effective immediately for refusing to provide services as required by his uniform player contract,” Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey said in an e-mailed statement today. “We will continue to work with Royce to hopefully come to a resolution.”

Royce told Sirius XM radio’s “Off the Dribble” show that he’s at loggerheads with the Rockets over their approach to treating an anxiety disorder that includes a fear of flying. He said in a statement after the Rockets assigned him to the Vipers that he would accept the move or play for Houston if the Rockets adhered to protocols from doctors treating him.

“I have chosen to not play, because the doctors and I believe it to be unsafe for unqualified Rockets front office personnel to make medical decisions, as they are not mental health professionals,” White said in his statement. “I do wish to play, but I only intend to do so with the collaboration and recommendation of trained professionals.”

White won’t receive any pay while suspended from a contract that’s worth $3 million in his first two NBA seasons, ESPN said. The 21-year-old forward, who has yet to play for Houston after being picked 16th in last year’s draft out of Iowa State University, was previously fined by the Rockets.

“Threats, fines, suspension won’t deter me,” White wrote on his Twitter account after being suspended today. “I won’t accept illogical health decisions. I will keep asking for safety and health.”

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