Regrading the Derrick White trade on its one-year anniversary

Boston Celtics v San Antonio Spurs
Boston Celtics v San Antonio Spurs / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

One year has passed since the San Antonio Spurs traded Derrick White to the Boston Celtics. Sometimes, as an adult, you have to end relationships, but when you cut ties, you hope your life improves in the long run. After 365 days, it's time to take inventory of whether moving on from Derrick White was the right decision for the Spurs or if the organization longs for an old flame.

Here's a short recap of the deal. The Spurs received Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a 2022 first-rounder that turned into the 25th pick in return for Derrick White. San Antonio then drafted Notre Dame shooting guard Blake Wesley with that pick.

The Celtics were chasing a title and needed to solidify their backup point guard role, and the Silver and Black coveted young assets over a veteran presence. To judge whether or not the Spurs made the right decision, one must analyze all the moving parts of this trade.

A Detailed Trade Review

White embraced San Antonio's culture, quickly becoming a fan favorite among the Spurs faithful. His personality was never a problem. It was his trajectory. In 2019, the Spurs made the playoffs and played an exciting first-round series against Denver. During his second taste of postseason action, Derrick was a revelation, shooting 55% from the field and hitting clutch shot after clutch shot to force the Nuggets to use seven games to oust the seventh-seeded Spurs. But what looked like a promising flash of potential from White, unfortunately, turned out to be a tease as he never reached that level of play again.

Josh Richardson was never going to turn the Spurs into a contender, but he is a veteran that knows how to stay prepared during the season. San Antonio is the fifth team for Richardson, and he still has a job because he has established himself as a solid role player with shooting and defensive capabilities. The Spurs have many young players on the roster, and not everyone can be a star, so learning how to adjust to your role is an invaluable experience for them. So whether Richardson walks in free agency, gets traded by the deadline, or re-signs with the team this summer, his presence has made a positive impact.

Romeo Langford was a lottery talent, and the Boston Celtics made him the 14th overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. In his first three seasons, Langford averaged 3.6 points per game. Shots were tough to come by on a championship contender with a crowded depth chart. Still, Langford did not jump off the screen as a Celtic and has not jumped off the screen as a Spur. Langford becomes a free agent after this season, and I expect San Antonio to allow him to walk, clearing $5.6 million off their books.

Through ten games this season, Blake Wesley's contributions are reminiscent of a movie extra, averaging a meager 4.0 points per game. But in the G League, that same movie extra is the lead in a Broadway production, as Wesley posts nearly 20 points per game for the Austin Spurs. Few teams use their G League affiliate as efficiently as San Antonio, and whether Wesley reaches his potential will eventually determine if the Spurs won this trade.

Right after the trade happened a year ago, we gave the transaction an A. I see no reason to dwell on past relationships. Derrick White is almost 29 and was not living up to the desired pedigree the Spurs expected for him. Josh Richardson added similar value for less money, and Romeo Langford was a throw-in that has not panned out. Blake Wesley's impact is to be determined, but as a team tanking for Wembanyama, the Spurs do not have to rush the rookie's development...yet.

One-Year Trade Anniversary Grade: B- (potential for improvement)

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