Derrick White agrees to 4-year, $125.9M extension with Boston: Report

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 17: Derrick White #9 of the Boston Celtics reacts after a three point basket against the Dallas Mavericks during the first quarter of Game Five of the 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 17, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Derrick White has been vital to the Celtics' success since arriving in 2022. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Derrick White’s summer was already going pretty well. It just got a hell of a lot better.

Fresh off playing a pivotal role throughout the Celtics’ run to the 2023-24 NBA championship, White has agreed to a four-year, $125.9 contract extension that will keep him in Boston, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The re-up represents a significant leap over the four-year, $70 million deal that White signed as an extension of his rookie-scale contract back in 2020 and includes a player option.

White inked that pact with the Spurs, who’d drafted the formerly unheralded recruit out of Colorado with the 29th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In four and a half seasons under the watchful eye of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, White developed from a lightly used understudy to stalwarts Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Patty Mills into a dependable two-way starter in the backcourt, sharing ball-handling and point-of-attack defensive duties with Dejounte Murray.

Those post-Duncan-and-Kawhi Spurs teams had some moments — including taking the Nuggets to seven games in the opening round of the 2019 playoffs, with White exploding for 36 points in Game 3 — but fell short of serious contention in a perpetually tough Western Conference and were struggling near the bottom of the standings ahead of the 2022 trade deadline. That’s when Brad Stevens, in his first season as the Celtics’ personnel chief, plucked White out of San Antonio in exchange for Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a 2022 first-round pick and the right to swap first-round picks with Boston in 2028.

That 2028 pick is top-1 protected. At the time of the trade, some cautious pundits (cough, cough) noted the risk of such a lightly protected swap, and the possibility that, if things fell apart in a few years’ time, Boston could come to rue that swap. Even if the wheels do fall off in the near future, though, it’s hard to envision the Celtics minding all that much, considering how vital White’s been to their success over the past two seasons, and how integral he was on their road to Banner 18.

Since his first appearance for the team on Feb. 11, 2022, the Celtics have gone 175-68 with White in the lineup — a .720 winning percentage, which works out to a 59-win pace over an 82-game schedule. In all competition over the last two seasons, regular-season and postseason combined, Boston has outscored opponents by a whopping 1,177 points with White on the floor — the third-highest mark in the league, behind only three-time MVP Nikola Jokić (who’s logged nearly 400 more minutes in that span than White) and teammate Jayson Tatum (who’s played nearly 1,000 more) — and he’s had the best on-court/off-court splits of any of the Celtics’ top players in both of his full seasons in Boston.

Emboldened to launch 3-pointers freely and frequently in the five-out, win-the-math-battle offensive scheme favored by head coach Joe Mazzulla, White has become one of the NBA’s best marksmen — one of just 15 players in the league to fire at least six 3-pointers per game and make more than 39% of them this season. (He ratcheted that production up even higher in the playoffs, drilling 40.4% of his 8.5 triple tries a night.) Factor in his career-high 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game, and the only players this season to match White’s contributions as a long-distance shooter, on-ball playmaker and possession-ending board-crasher were Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.

That’s pretty heady company for a guy who started his college hoops career at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in Division II … and that’s before you get to the impact he makes on the other end of the court.

The 6-foot-4 combo guard has become one of the NBA’s most consistent and disruptive perimeter stoppers, earning All-Defensive Second Team nods in each of the last two seasons for his work as the kind of high-motor playmaker willing to sacrifice his smile to secure a loose ball if it gets him one step closer to a win. He’s frequently lauded as the best shot-blocking guard the game’s seen since Dwyane Wade, and for good reason: No other backcourt player has tallied anything close to White’s 163 blocks over the past two seasons, which is more than all but 17 players at any position.

Add it up and you’ve got a dude who, despite relatively modest per-game scoring numbers, graded out by a slew of advanced analytics models as one of the 25 best players in the NBA this season. (The metrics that see White that way include, but are not limited to: estimated plus-minus, value over replacement player, win shares, box plus-minus, Opta’s DRIP and Neil Paine’s Estimated RAPTOR.)

High efficiency, low turnover and even lower drama; comfortable playing a smaller role, but able to scale up his usage when called upon; a threat to score and facilitate on or off the ball; capable of guarding across perimeter positions and providing secondary rim protection at an elite level. It’s hard to overstate just how perfect a fit White has proven to be in Boston — how much he helped the Celtics get to the promised land, and how much that has inspired other would-be contenders to search for their version of White.

Whether they’ll find it remains to be seen. What’s clear, though, is that Boston’s not interested in letting its version go anytime soon.