Royce White refusing assignment to D-League. Ugh.

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For a second time this season, the Houston Rockets have assigned Royce White — the No. 16 overall pick from the last draft — to their D-League team. And for the second time he has refused the assignment.

And from here it’s just hard to see him ever playing a moment for the Rockets.

After a six-week absence from the team as White and the Rockets disagreed over the best course of action to help him play and deal with his anxiety disorder, White had returned to working out at the team facilities this week. Then the Rockets assigned White to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But White is refusing the assignment, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. White released a statement which is in full on the Chronicle Web site (this is a portion of it):

I do wish to play, but I only intend to do so with the collaboration and recommendation of trained professionals. The purpose of a doctor’s confirmation is to ensure that health decisions are made in the sole interest of health and not conflicted with business. My only hope is that decision makers involved realize that doctors are the only logical source to decide action.

There is an admitted lack of knowledge on behalf of the Rockets and the NBA, it becomes transparent as they choose to forego the knowledge of trained professionals and make independent decisions for something as complex as mental health without consulting any doctors. The Rockets have told me in recent conversations that it is their right to decline even their own doctors’ recommendations. The concept of not listening to medical consultants in medical situations is alarming. It is also alarming that a player is susceptible to fines for simply adhering to the recommendation of doctors.

It is true that accommodating mental health can be very tough and complex, however, sometimes the only reasonable solution to doing what is right is doing what is tough. To portray that the Rockets have been supportive to me is fundamentally incorrect.

White has said continuously that he has not gotten enough if any support from the Rockets organization to help him be a functioning NBA player. The Rockets have been supportive publicly but have said in multiple reports that they have tried a number of steps to accommodate White but that he has not followed through on his end.

I’m not going to pretend to know what is the appropriate way to deal with White’s disorder (my psych minor only gets me so far). My understanding is that one of the ways to best deal with the anxiety is a regular routine schedule, but that is something nearly impossible to do with the travel and varied games times of an NBA team. There clearly is no easy solution.

But the idea of White getting some burn in the D-League before coming up to the NBA squad makes basketball sense.

And more importantly for White, slamming your employer in public — while not having played a game for them — does not help make your point or case to a broader public. If his goal is to show Rockets fans and everyone else that the Rockets are in the wrong here and are not helping him properly, these kinds of statements (not to mention twitter rants) defeat his own purpose. He loses the battle of perception with these things and that hurts his overall cause.

Really, from here it’s just hard to imagine White and the Rockets ending up on the same page, or at least close enough to that page where he would join the team and play.

In other Rockets news, they are adding to their roster on the perimeter, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network.

 

Report: 76ers rookie Zhaire Smith expected to return around Christmas

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76ers first-rounder Zhaire Smith suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot last month, leaving plenty of uncertainty about when he’d return.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

The 76ers expect injured rookie Zhaire Smith to be available to play in a game around Christmas, league sources say.

A rookie on a team with legitimate aspirations of deep-playoff advancement, Smith was already unlikely to crack Philadelphia’s rotation this season. All this lost developmental time makes it even less likely.

But the sooner Smith returns, the better for him and Philadelphia. The No. 16 pick impresses with his athleticism and motor, but he needs time to develop his perimeter skills.

Kevin Love launches “Love Fund” to bring more focus to mental health issues

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The NBA is not shying away from the issue of the mental health of its players.

In the wake of All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love coming forward about their mental health challenges, the league and the players’ union combined to tell players to speak out on the issue and take advantage of the services offered.

Kevin Love is doing more than just that, he has formed the Kevin Love Fund to help change the stigma around mental health issues. The fund has partners such as Headspace, with the focus being on prioritizing mental health awareness. He went on the Today Show on NBC to talk about it.

Love has become a leader and spokesman around the issue. Love came forward near the end of last season to talk about his battles with anxiety and depression. That opened the door for others around the NBA to step forward as well, such as Kelly Oubre and Paul Pierce.

Sixers hire Elton Brand as new General Manager

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Filling the 76ers vacant general manager position dragged out all summer for one main reason:

They liked what they already had in-house. The Sixers were an especially collegial and collaborative group with their decision making, and if they brought in a big name from the outside — former Cavaliers’ GM David Griffin, or the two guys who went deep into the interview process Utah assistant GM Justin Zanik on Rockets VP Gersson Rosas — it would change that dynamic.

Which is why they have decided to keep this in the family, and will promote Elton Brand from vice president of basketball operations to general manager. It’s a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and confirmed by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark.

Brand, a former Philadelphia player, was the general manager of their G-League team, the Delaware Blue Coats, before becoming the VP of basketball operations. He will replace Bryan Colangelo, who was forced out following a Twitter scandal involving his wife.

There were other title changes within the organization as well.

What this means on the ground is don’t expect any significant changes with the Sixers’ plans — nor should there be. They are banking on Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz — now with a functional jump shot, they hope — to be at the core of a contending team, then next summer they will go big game hunting again for an elite free agent. (There is more pressure to get a deal done this summer before the big extensions for those young stars start to really kick in.) That said, this is a team poised on the brink of a great run.

And if things are going well, why make a dramatic change? Brand can help them on the course already set.

Pat Riley: Dion Waiters not recovered for start of training camp, “unlikely” for start of season

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This is a setback.

When Dion Waiters had ankle surgery 30 games into last season, the hope was that he would be healthy for the start of this season and return to the post All-Star form of 2017, when his hot play (15.6 points per game, 41 percent from three and carrying a heavy offensive load) led the Heat to offer him a four-year contract.

Turns out, that’s not going to happen.

It was Pat Riley who made the announcement, speaking to the media.

Waiters was not healthy last season, and while he averaged 14.3 points a game he was not nearly as efficient — 30.6 percent from three, shooting 39.8 percent overall, a PER of 10.5.

This could move Dwyane Wade into the starting lineup to open the season. Beyond that, the Heat have the guard depth to survive this with Wade and Wayne Ellington at the two, plus Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Malik Newman, and Briante Weber heading into camp.

Waiters being out also is bad news for the player but could save the franchise money on another front: Waiters receives a $1.1 million bonus if he plays in 70 games this season. If he misses the start of the season, he becomes far less likely to make that threshold.