Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Knicks give James White 1-year deal
By Jared Zwerling
Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Former NBA player James White, who played the last two years in Italy, has agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Knicks.
Daniel Curtin, who works at the Three Eye Sports agency that represents White, said the deal amount is for slightly less than the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million.
"He's excited about it," Curtin said. "He's going to have a chance to play. He's come a long way since his earlier NBA stint. I think it's a great opportunity for him, especially with the personnel he'll be playing with. He has some elite intangibles."
The 6-7, 200-pound White was a member of the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets during the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons, respectively, but he only played in a total of 10 games.
For the past two years, he has competed in Lega Basket Serie A, the highest level of club competition in Italian professional basketball, and he became one of the top scorers. He led the league in 2010-11 with Dinamo Sassari, averaging 21.0 points per game (in a mostly transition offense), and was top three in 2011-12 with Pesaro, averaging 17.1 points per game (in more of a halfcourt offense).
Not only did White prove he could adjust to two different offensive styles in Italy, but he became more of a complete player, averaging about five rebounds, three assists and two steals per game.
"He's really grown," Curtin said. "This past year, he led the league in free throws made, and his efficiency and basketball IQ were phenomenal. He was also first in the league in assists for any non-point guard. He's made strides in the shooting department, but he's not going to turn into Steve Novak. But his overall polish has increased quite a bit."
While White had feelers and workouts with several NBA teams since playing with the Rockets, the likelihood of another pro contract in the states emerged this year.
"This is the closest that he had been," Curtin said.
The Knicks took notice, likely led by widely-respected international scout, Kevin Wilson, and they flew White in for a workout about 10 days ago at the team's training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. Curtin said it "went great."
White will be with the Knicks next week in Las Vegas, where they're participating in the NBA summer league. White won't be suiting up, however, but he'll be meeting with his new teammates and coaches, learning the system and training in the area.
In 2001, White was one of the best high school players in the country who earned the nickname "Flight 75" for his leaping ability. He was named to the McDonald's All-American team along with Tyson Chandler, who was drafted second overall by the Bulls that year. While Chandler became a starter in his rookie year, White had to first pay his dues in college, playing at Florida and Cincinnati.
Now, Curtin believes White is ready to play a key role off the bench for the Knicks, like Gerald Green initially did for the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets last season.
"It's been a long time coming," Curtin said. "I think kind of the analogy is the Gerald Green situation. Gerald's a little bit younger and came out of high school, but the same idea. James is a super, super talent and it took him a couple of years to polish his game and develop. He's come a long way."