After playing just 137 minutes during his rookie season, Derrick White went on to have a breakout sophomore season. With White’s help, the Spurs managed to overcome the loss of Dejounte Murray, and a poor start to the season, to make the playoffs.
Against the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the 2019 playoffs, White had a impressive showing, averaging 15.1 points per game on 54.7% shooting. The most memorable part of the playoffs for him was the 36-point Game 3 explosion that helped the Spurs take a 2-1 series lead.
This season, White hasn’t been quite as good. While a lingering injury or a change in role may be contributing factors, he hasn’t consistently lived up to his expectations.
White’s uneven play has created some uncertainty in regards to a possible contract extension.
What Does a Derrick White Extension Look Like?
Dejounte Murray’s extension provides an interesting baseline for a potential Derrick White extension. Prior to the season, Murray signed a -four-year, $64 million dollar extension. While Murray’s value was suppressed by his ACL injury, paying White more than Murray seems unlikely.
Though White and Murray both play the same position, it doesn’t necessarily preclude the Spurs from handing a contract extension to White. That said, price will be a determining factor in deciding whether it makes sense to invest in both. Murray is viewed, by all accounts, as the point guard of the future.
Coming to an agreement on an extension this summer, ahead of a restricted free agency, could be tricky for both sides. Negotiations would likely to need to start around at least $11 million per season, while $16 million would likely be the most the Spurs would be willing to pay.
An extension in the range of four years and $56-$60 million could make sense for both sides. For White, agreeing to an extension forecloses on the chance that another team makes an offer in restricted free agency. That said, it would guarantee himself $56-60 million and he would be able to reach free agency again in his prime.
Were Derrick to bet on himself and take his chances in the star-studded free agency class of 2021, he could risk getting less. He will turn 27 during free agency, which is old in today’s league for a player entering his fifth season.
San Antonio’s Considerations When Negotiating the Contract Extension
While Derrick White’s next contract would encompass all of his youth, his lack of progression may be cause for concern. Last season, he ranked 14th among all point guards in real plus-minus. This season, he ranks just 37th.
The Spurs signing White this summer would be a protection against another team potentially offering a big contract the following summer. Despite his up-and-down season, he is a good player that they’ve worked to develop. They may see him as a part of the their long-term plans, so locking up White for four additional seasons could be a priority.
While currently backing up Murray, that has more to do with the spacing and fit issues of the roster. Going forward, Murray and White may eventually start together. Paying out approximately $31 million to a starting backcourt is certainly doable, especially with the steadily rising cap.
During the 2022-23 season, the first season in which both would be paid under their new deals, they’d only account for about 25% of the projected cap. Should White remain a sixth man and, say, Lonnie Walker IV starts, then it might become an issue. Paying $14-15 million per season to a third guard isn’t usually sound cap management.
With no max level players on the horizon, the Spurs would be smart to lock up young talent like White on good deals. Doing so would allow for such players to continue to improve, hopefully to a point that their value exceeds their contract.
Extending White this summer would provide the team with a level of stability and could aid San Antonio as they look to rebuild and search for a superstar.