The Rockets suspended Royce White today for "refusing to provide services" required by his contract, something that White has been staunchly refusing to do roughly since the season began. He's spent the last few months on the inactive list after repeatedly declining to play for the Rockets D-League affiliate; the last games he participated in were during the preseason, and the last he attended was Houston's Nov. 9 game in Memphis. (White, who suffers from a fear of flying, took a bus.)
Though White had floated the nuclear option in November, he sounded more conciliatory this week when a SirusXM radio host asked him whether he would ever play in the NBA—White responded that the "chances are very high." Among his statements during that interview, as transcribed by TrueHoop's Henry Abbott:
The reality is that it is not Houston's fault. As much as we always want to try and blame one side or the other and try and find the black and white in it, it's not black and white. It's gray. And they've been thrown into a position now where they're forced to make things up as they go because a protocol has not been put in place for mental health up until this point. And that's tough for anybody to do. If there were no safety or health codes on how to construct a building, the people who are going to try to build a building tomorrow are going to be in trouble.
It's not exactly clear how the suspensions will affect White's activities—now he'll stay extra home?—but it's possible the Rockets have freed themselves of some financial responsibility, and as White suggests, the suspension may help foster the impression that it's the player, not the team, that's more accountable for the failure to come to an agreement.