Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens had eyes on point guard Derrick White for years.
He envisioned White as an ideal piece to complement Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. So, when the former San Antonio Spur was available ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, Stevens came correct with his best offer and wasn’t dubious in his approach.
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He slammed Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and two future first-round picks, including this year’s first that’s protected and a 2028 pick-swap onto the proverbial trading table and reeled in his guy before 3 p.m. Thursday.
Stevens: Derrick White ‘Only Cares About Winning’
And now, Stevens is confident that the revamped sizzling-hot Celtics, who are currently on a six-game winning streak and winners of eight of their last ten games, will carry their momentum into next week’s All-Star break and beyond. He defended himself thoroughly throughout his media availability.
“We’ve thought for years that Derrick was a really good fit with our best players,” Stevens said during his press conference, Friday morning. “He is an excellent defender. He just makes the right play on offense over and over and over. He’s a guy that only cares about winning, that will do all of the little things as you can see in some of his stats defensively with regard to a willingness to put his body on the line. Activity shot challenges, all of these things.
“And on offense, just by making simple plays and doesn’t need to do anything to be on the highlights to really, really impact winning.”
White also has a history with Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, who coached under the tutelage of Spurs’ veteran head coach Gregg Popovich. Ime was also an assistant under Popovich for Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where White cracked the final roster alongside his new Celtics teammates in Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart.
“We’ve kind of identified him for a long time,” Stevens added. “The first time that I got a chance to watch him for consecutive days in a row and really see, or even piqued our interest more, was watching him with the U.S. select team years ago. And now, we felt very fortunate to even get a guy like that on a long contract that we think, again, is a perfect fit for our best players.”
White The Answer for Celtics’ Short & Long-Term Plans?
Currently on a four-year deal worth $68 million, per Spotrac.com, White fits Stevens’ long-term plan. The 27-year-old guard’s contract tops out at $18.8 million per in 2024-25, which Stevens always kept in mind well before February 10’s deadline.
“I don’t know if it’s the approach going into the day, it’s the approach of evaluating the first half of the season,” Stevens explained. “Again, you’re evaluating the season, you’re seeing where you’re headed both in the short-term and in the long-term, and you’re doing your best to try to accentuate that team in both of those circumstances. But, the long-term part was always at the forefront. We’ve, obviously, been on a good roll and I think that we have some great challenges coming up.
“This four-game stretch before the break will be tremendous to get a chance to evaluate us. So, I’m looking forward to moving forward with this group.”
White’s averaging 14.4 points, 5.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game, this season while making 42.6% of his attempts, including 31.4% from behind the 3-point arc, per Basketball-Reference.com.