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Derrick White won the trade… Spurs did too!

Boston Celtics' Derrick White during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 103-101 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

I know I made fun of him. I know I wanted him off the Spurs roster. Three months after my wish came true, Derrick White is just eight victories away from winning an NBA championship.

The former Spurs guard (and fan favorite) has enjoyed an incredible ride since his trade to the Boston Celtics. His team knocked out the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday in a thrilling 7 game series. Derrick now has a chance of doing something he never would have accomplished with the Spurs – win a championship ring. I am so happy for him. Good things happen to good people. It’s safe to say: Derrick White won the trade. And believe it or not, the Spurs won the trade too!

When White was dealt to the Celtics on February 10th, the Spurs struggled with a 20-35 record. Suddenly, the offense opened up and we saw improved play from Dejounte, Devin, Keldon and Lonnie. The Spurs finished its final 27 games with a winning record (14-13) and qualified for the Play In Tournament.

Meantime, Boston had a 31-25 record and was in the middle of a 9-game winning streak when the trade was completed. The Celtics finished the season 20 games above .500 (20-6 after the trade) and claimed the 2nd seed in the East.

Derrick is thriving as the fourth or fifth option on a championship contending team. It’s a role that fits him well because he can focus on what he does best: lock down defenders. I often criticized White when he played for the Spurs because of his below average 3-point shooting. That’s difficult to stomach when you are playing 30 minutes as the team’s number two offensive option. On the Celtics, however, Derrick is not the go-to guy for points. That job belongs to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

In Sunday’s game seven against the Bucks, White missed his first eight field goal attempts. He finally knocked down his first shot in the last minute of the third quarter, giving the Celtics a 79-64 lead. The Boston crowd went crazy, as the game never got close the rest of the way.

     It is easy to see how Derrick White and the Celtics won their part of the trade. But how exactly did the Spurs win? San Antonio was able to unload White’s $15 million salary – and the $53 million he is still owed. The Spurs received a first-round draft pick (#25 in June’s draft) along with two players – Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford.
     Spurs fans were quick to love Richardson’s play. He averaged 11.4 points for the team with 44% 3-point shooting in 21 games. Richardson has one more year left on his deal and could easily be traded, if needed. Personally, I’d like for the Spurs to keep him unless his salary is needed to bring a max player to town. The Spurs have a team option on Langford and can save $5.6 million in salary cap space if the team drops him.

Bottom line, the Spurs have several options. General Manager Brian Wright has shown a willingness to make moves. I am very optimistic for this off season. The Spurs have 3 first-round draft picks, including one in the lottery. Those picks can be used to move up in the draft, or be used as trade bait for another team. The Spurs also have the potential for a ton of cap space, enough to go after a high dollar free agent. It’s going to be an exciting summer… and it all starts tonight with the NBA Draft Lottery.

      As we rebuild, a fan favorite is making his way to the mountain top. Good luck, Derrick White. Thank you for your time in Silver and Black. Thank you for being part of the community. And, thank you for serving as a role model. You are forever a Spur. Go get that ring!
– Michael Jimenez


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