Celtics

Brad Stevens calls Derrick White a ‘perfect fit’ for Celtics

The Celtics president of basketball operations said he'd had his eye on White for "years."

Derrick White Celtics
Derrick White. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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For the second consecutive season, the Celtics have made a swing at the trade deadline with an eye toward the postseason, trading backup guards Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford and a first-round pick for Spurs guard Derrick White.

But unlike last year, when the Celtics’ big move was bringing in Evan Fournier to provide more scoring help, the White acquisition looks like a move much more geared toward locking things down on the defensive end.

In Brad Stevens’s eyes, the savvy, defensive-minded guard is exactly what the Celtics need to get the most out of stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

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“We’ve thought for years that Derrick was a really good fit with our best players,” said Stevens, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “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 willingness to put his body on the line, activity, shot challenges, all of those things…doesn’t need to do anything to be in the highlights to really impact winning. So we’ve identified him for a long time.”

In a way, adding White almost gives the Celtics another version of Marcus Smart, albeit one that averages a few more points a game — White is averaging 14.4 points each game while Smart sits at 11.5. Both also distribute the basketball on offense — each is averaging over five assists per game — which gives the Celtics options for how to deploy them alongside Tatum and Brown as well as the backups. White will likely come off the bench with Smart remaining in the starting lineup.

Interestingly, White also fits the bill of someone who can help Boston long-term rather than just 2022. He just entered into a four-year deal with the Spurs this season, meaning the Celtics have him under their control until the summer of 2025. That factor likely helped convince Stevens to fork over a first-round pick to bring him to town, something he acknowledged was “not without risks” but worth it to get someone who was “a perfect fit for our best players.”

The Celtics executive went on to suggest players like White and experienced reserve center Daniel Theis, who was re-acquired after being traded away from Boston last year, will make Boston a tougher out in the playoffs.

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“This is not just about the next three months with [them]. This is about, again, adding guys that you can see playing in a seven-game, knock-down, drag-out playoff series. And you know they can be on the floor and play a role in helping you win.”

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