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Why one NBA rookie refused a demotion

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Why one NBA rookie refused a demotion

From Comcast SportsNetHOUSTON (AP) -- Rockets first-round pick Royce White refused his assignment to Houston's D-League affiliate on Sunday, yet another setback to his return to the court.White, the 16th overall pick in the June draft, has spent most of the season on Houston's inactive list while he and the team figure out how to handle his anxiety disorder and overall mental health.White's assignment to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Saturday looked to be a positive step in his return. But on Sunday, White released an almost 500-word statement where he said he wouldn't report to the team."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," he said.The Rockets chose White in the first round after a season at Iowa State, where he helped the Cyclones to their first NCAA tournament berth in seven years by leading the team in scoring (13.4 points a game), rebounds (9.3), assists (5.0), steals (1.2) and blocks (0.9).The 6-foot-8 White missed the first week of training camp to work with the Rockets to create an arrangement to deal with his anxiety disorder within the demands of the NBA's travel schedule. He and the team agreed to allow him to travel by bus to some games while he confronted his fear of flying and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He flew to Detroit with the team for the season opener and then traveled by bus to Atlanta and Memphis for games.But he soon stopped participating in team activities and said on Twitter that dealing with his mental health took precedence over his NBA career. Then came his decision Sunday to refuse his assignment to the D-League. Despite the decision, he said he still hopes to return to basketball in the future."I do wish to play, but I only intend to do so with the collaboration and recommendation of trained professionals," he said. "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."

Soldier Field to host drive-in movie screenings through July

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NBC Sports Chicago

Soldier Field to host drive-in movie screenings through July

You're probably not going to be able to watch the Bears at Soldier Field any time soon, but next week you'll be able to watch a movie there! That's kind of the same! 

That's because a program called 'Chi-Togther' "will provide Music Entertainment and Movie Screenings each night that will also include carpool-style concerts plus food and beverage options for all ages."

The event will be held in Soldier's South lot, and anyone who signs up will get a free popcorn! Honestly, it's worth it  just to get out of the house and grab yourself some free kernels. 

Movies being screened include Groundhog Day, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and Fast and Furious (hell yeah). Also Shrek. 

Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown to 2020

Michael Kopech absent from White Sox camp, adding another unknown to 2020

On the first day of "Summer Camp" workouts at Guaranteed Rate Field, there was one important absentee.

Michael Kopech has not yet reported to the second round of spring training ahead of the abbreviated, 60-game 2020 season, and the team has no timetable on when he'll rejoin the club.

General manager Rick Hahn said Friday that Kopech, who missed the entirety of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, is dealing with a personal matter. Recognizing that speculation could immediately turn to COVID-19, Hahn assured that the 24-year-old flamethrower is healthy.

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"It's obviously never ideal when any individual is dealing with off-field matters," Hahn said. "It's easy, I suppose, at times, to lose sight of the fact that you're dealing with human beings here. People have lives, people have families. People have all the same assortment of items to attend to that each and every other individual has. And this is obviously a very unique time we're all living through.

"It's not ideal, but fundamentally, we're looking to put all our players in the best position they can be to perform and maximize their abilities on the field, and if there's anything standing in the way of that, we're going to provide them with whatever support and resources they need to help address those matters. ... We fully support Michael and are going to provide him with whatever time and resources he needs and look forward to seeing him in the future."

Kopech missing more time is certainly unfortunate, especially when considering the long layoff he had following the surgery at the end of the 2018 season. He spent all of 2019 in recovery mode and participated in spring training earlier this year, throwing one inning of Cactus League action — and a pretty spectacular one at that — before baseball was abruptly shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, Kopech was expected to begin the season in the minor leagues, building arm strength with so much time between competitive games. When the season was squeezed down to 60 games in two months, it appeared Kopech, three more months removed from the surgery, could have been utilized as a full-season option for the White Sox. Other pitchers, such as Carlos Rodon and Dane Dunning, could also be part of expanded pitching depth for the White Sox that they wouldn't have had if the season started in March, as scheduled.

But with no idea how long Kopech will be away from the team, those plans could again be forced to change.

RELATED: White Sox do not expect Mayor Lightfoot's travel order to impact MLB season

It's already a huge question what shape starting pitchers will be in after a halted spring, a three-month layoff and only three weeks' worth of ramping up before the regular season begins. Pitchers might be only capable of throwing three or four innings per start as opposed to their usual six or seven as they take time to get back into in-season mode. Who knows how Kopech, individually, has kept himself in shape during the layoff, or how large a benefit "Summer Camp" will provide for pitchers.

While the White Sox continue to have options with guys like Rodon, Dunning and Jimmy Lambert to go along with their starting rotation of Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, Dylan Cease, Reynaldo Lopez and Gio Gonzalez, Kopech was expected to play a role of some significance either as a member of the rotation, a "piggybacking" starter out of the bullpen or even, potentially, as a late-inning option.

Any of that can still happen, but Kopech's beginning-of-camp absence adds another unknown into a season already full of them.


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