Ex-Celtics Coach Ime Udoka ‘Really Wanted’ Critical Backcourt Player

Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

Getty Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

During his one-season tenure with the Boston Celtics, Ime Udoka experienced significant success, helping lead his team to the NBA Finals.

However, what we didn’t know, was that Udoka was also a driving force behind Brad Stevens’ move to acquire Derrick White, a player who has been integral to the Celtics’ success throughout the current season.

According to an Eastern Conference executive, who spoke with Heavy on Sports Sean Deveney under the condition of anonymity, White was a player who Udoka really wanted on his team.

“It was Ime (Udoka) who really wanted them to get White,” The executive said.

Since joining the Celtics in a deal that saw Romeo Langford, Josh Richardson, and a protected 2022 first-round draft pick, White has developed into one of the best two-way guards in the NBA. Capable of scoring across all three levels, a willingness to push the pace and make quick decisions, along with a defensive intensity that has seen him become a contender for an All-NBA defensive team this season has ensured White’s presence on Boston’s roster has helped elevate their robust and talented backcourt.

Celtics Paid ‘A Little Bit Extra’ to Land Derrick White

When speaking to Heavy on Sports Steve Bulpett back on February 11, 2022, just two days after the trade deadline had passed, a league executive revealed that Boston paid slightly over the odds to acquire White, proving they really wanted him to be part of their plans.

“Picks are really important assets, so that means they really, really like White,” The executive told Bulpett. “So they paid a little bit extra to get a guy they really like. He’s the guy that they targeted. The Celtics went after him. They ended up getting the guy they wanted. You can tell by the price they paid for him.”

Fast forward to the opening two games of the 2023 NBA playoffs, and White has positioned himself as one of the Celtics’ best players, providing a statline of 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.5 blocks in their first two games against the Atlanta Hawks.

Derrick White is Keeping The Celtics in Check

Not only has White’s game evolved since arriving in Boston, but it also appears that the quiet guard is growing into somewhat of a lockerroom leader. When speaking to the media following the Celtics’ April 18 victory over the Hawks, White took a moment to remind his teammates that a sterner test awaits once they travel to Atlanta to face Quin Snyder’s team in their own backyard.

“We did what we were supposed to do. [We] held [home court advantage], and now we got the real challenge of the playoffs which is winning on the road,” Derrick White said. “I know they’re going to play better at home, and we’re going to have to step up our level of play.”

White and the Celtics will be back in action on April 21, in a game that could see them move within one win of progressing onto the second round of the playoffs and potentially pit them against bitter rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers.