Spurs Q&A: Derrick White Signs a Contract Extension with San Antonio

Negotiations between Derrick White and the San Antonio Spurs on a contract extension went down to the final buzzer. In fact, the news of the extension didn’t become public until five minutes after the deadline. After the dust settled, White signed a contract that will pay him $73 million over four seasons and the Spurs had locked up the most important piece of their current puzzle.

Did the Spurs end up overpaying Derrick White?

No, I don’t think they did. I thought the Spurs should have been willing to go up to about $78 million if that’s what it took to get White’s autograph on a contract extension. Many teams will have cap room next summer, so if the Spurs didn’t extend White now, there was a very real possibility that he would command more than $100 million next offseason.

Heading into the day, I thought the ceiling of what White could ask for was $75 million over four years to match what Joe Harris received in free agency this summer. When Jonathan Isaac, who like White is an injury-prone player who has shown flashes of brilliance, got $80 million over four years shortly before the deadline, that likely gave White’s agent the leverage he needed to complete a deal at the high-end of his client’s value.

At the end of the day, $73 million over four years for White is unlikely to end up being a poor investment for San Antonio unless his career gets completely derailed by injury. He helps the team in a multitude of ways and has already proven that he’s capable of fulfilling just about any role imaginable.

Should the Spurs really have given Derrick White that big of a contract extension a year after investing so much money in Dejounte Murray?

Absolutely. While White and Murray may both be nominally listed as point guards, I like their fit together. In fact, I think the pairing offers nothing but upside, as they complement each other very well.

  • Murray can struggle with decision-making and ball-handling. White is a very good decision-maker and ball-handler.
  • Murray is best as a one-on-one defender. White is best a help-defender.
  • White is quiet and isn’t a natural leader. Murray is a born leader who has been vocal from Day 1.
  • White can struggle with his confidence. Murray always has an overflowing amount of confidence.
  • White is most useful as an orchestrator of halfcourt sets. Murray is best when attacking in transition.
  • Both are quick-footed athletes, strong rebounders, excellent rim defenders for their position and play bigger than their actual size, which exponentially increases the possible pieces you can put around them. You can go small; you can go big — it doesn’t really matter because this twosome can help fill the void of what is needed.

The only possible issue is shooting but that doesn’t worry me. In the Bubble, White launched threes at a high rate. Last year, Murray made great strides as a three-point shooter, so there’s a chance he takes another step or two in the right direction. Yes, you probably want to put shooters around them — but, then again, going forward you’d want shooters in any case, irrespective of the presence of White and Murray.

Besides, once the time comes to replace DeMar DeRozan, subbing a willing shooter in his spot will clear up most of the current spacing issues.

Is Derrick White the best player on the Spurs?

As I wrote above, I think he’s the most important player right now. He plays both ends of the court. He’s versatile and covers up many mistakes. It wasn’t a coincidence that the Spurs played in the preseason like a team with its head cut off.

Is White the best player? That’s more difficult to answer. Aldridge, last we saw him in games that counted, is still a strong offensive player and a decent defensive player. DeRozan is by far the most talented offensive player on the team but he obviously relinquishes a lot of his value on the other end of the court.

But, yeah, sign me up as someone who believe White is the team’s best player as it stands. Aldridge is getting up there in age, which means his defensive value will be in a steep decline going forward. Offensively, if he’s not hitting threes, his value on that end will take a big hit as well. The ship has sailed on DeRozan ever being even a halfway decent defender, so I don’t think his offensive mastery is enough to overshadow is defensive liabilities.

What do you expect from Derrick White this season?

The Spurs need him to get back to the court as soon as possible. Hopefully he’s no more than two to three weeks away after undergoing toe surgery in the offseason.

Once he’s back, White should regain his spot in the starting lineup. While he doesn’t need to replicate his production from the Bubble, he needs to be aggressive and not be afraid to take the reins. As long as he’s playing hard and stays healthy, I think the rest will take care of itself because he’s a naturally efficient player whose basketball instincts are almost always right.