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Revisiting the Derrick White trade

Sometimes time makes these things look better depending on your perspective

Boston Celtics v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

In the past couple of weeks, there have been rumblings about Dejounte Murray being traded, which led to the question of whether or not he’d be a good fit back in San Antonio. That parlayed into a mention that Derrick White would be a better fit, eventually leading to a great piece by Jeje Gomez on how circumstances shaped the individual careers of Murray and White.

When Boston was heading to San Antonio for New Year’s Eve, I had begun pondering how White could fit into this version of the San Antonio Spurs. As someone eloquently put it, “He’d fit into any system right now.”

That is the fortunate evolution of Derrick White’s trajectory — he makes himself valuable where he is as opposed to the type of player who need to find the right home.

I found an article from February 11, 2022, one day after the trade entitled “The Derrick White trade is a disaster” in which Derrick went to the Boston Celtics for Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2028 first-round pick swap calling the trade (from the perspective of the Celtics) “a senseless and shortsighted trade from Brad Stevens, a man who was once considered a basketball genius.”

Here’s what the author had to say: “Here are the facts. Josh Richardson is a better shooter than Derrick White, and aside from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, he was the best shooter on this team. Richardson is 6’5” with a 7-foot wingspan, White is 6’4” with a 6’8” wingspan. White was never asked to defend wings in San Antonio. Richardson did that regularly, and now there’s no wing depth with Langford gone, too. Richardson makes $11.6 million this year and $12.3 million next year, while White is on the first year of a four-year, $73 million contract.”

Now, hindsight in sports is 20/20. I recall making a few calls on decisions made above my pay grade that once in print, were regrettable. Sometimes immediately. Sometimes it is only after some time has passed that the real benefits can be assessed.

In my opinion, the Celtics got a great deal as White turned out to be essential to their continued growth. Considering their trades involving Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, and Robert Williams III, their decision to maintain White speaks volumes to his role in Boston.

What did the Spurs get for Derrick White, the 29th pick of 2017?

As mentioned, there were four pieces that came back from Boston when White traded the Silver & Black for green — Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2028 first-round pick swap.

Josh Richardson spent one year (February 10, 2022- February 9, 2023, or basically from one trade deadline to the next) before bringing the Spurs Devonte’ Graham and four future second-round picks in 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2029. While doubtful the Spurs will keep all of those picks, White’s value will impact the Spurs for quite some time.

Romeo Langford played four games during the remainder of 2022 as well as forty-three during the 20222-2023 season, but he was not extended a qualifying offer once his contract expired. He is currently signed to the Utah Jazz’s G-League affiliate Salt Lake City Stars.

That 2022 first-round pick became Blake Wesley. The twenty-year-old guard is developing through the system, so much so that Pop entrusted him to start the third quarter defending against Tre Young when the Spurs were down 35 against the Atlanta Hawks at halftime. He started the second half announcing his presence with a definitive dunk followed by full court defense forcing the Hawks to turn over the ball.

The 2028 pick swap obviously remains to be seen.

Graham, Wesley, four future picks, and a swap. The White trade could be paying dividends for years to come. And from the looks if it, the trade didn’t turn out too poorly for the Celtics, either.


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