The Wizards selected Aaron White 49th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft - or four picks after the Celtics nabbed former William & Mary standout Marcus Thornton. On the surface, there appears little in common between the 6-foot-8 forward from the Cleveland suburbs with the inside-outside game and the 6-foot-3 scoring guard who played locally for Bishop McNamara before becoming the Tribe's dazzling all-time leading scorer.
Regardless of their particular set of skills, common ground has now been established. Both are beginning their pro careers overseas for largely the same reason: No room with their new NBA team.
The sense that White would start his career away from the Wizards began seconds after Washington selected him. The Wizards are among the teams contending for the Eastern Conference title. They also acquired wing forward Kelly Oubre Jr., the 15th overall pick. Again, not much overlap in general skill and style, except that both White and Oubre obviously lack NBA experience. Rather than have two players simultaneously cut their teeth on the NBA level and take up two of their 15 roster spots, Oubre and his guaranteed contract stay while White heads elsewhere. Specifically, to Germany.
— Aaron White (@Aaron_White30) July 24, 2015
White stated that ideally he would like to stay with the Wizards this season, but this is scenario is a win-win. He should receive meaningful playing time with Telekom Baskets. That wasn't happening with the Wizards. Granted, White could have spent his first pro year stateside in the D-League, but then he still counts on Washington's 15-player roster. In this case, the Wizards maintain his future NBA rights while using that roster spot for immediate help.
The Wizards also don't have their own D-League squad. They share Fort Wayne with other NBA squads, which means even if they wanted to keep White closer by, they couldn't truly dictate the terms of his role.
The Celtics, who are currently over the limit with 16 players on guaranteed contracts, are among the teams with a direct one-on-one relationship with a D-League squad. There is a good chance some of their other rookies - Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey - spend some time with the Maine Red Claws this season.
Thornton will not. He agreed to a deal with the Sydney Kings of Australia's National Basketball League. ProBasketballTalk.com pondered why:
Thornton could have forced the Celtics’ hand by accepting their required tender, a one-year contract teams must extend to keep the rights to second-rounders. That surely would have been a non-guaranteed minimum deal, and Boston likely would have waived him after training camp. That would have freed Thornton to negotiate with any team in the NBA. Right now, the Celtics have exclusive rights to sign him – a huge bargaining chip. So why did Thornton agree to forgo the NBA contract he had on the table? There are a couple logical possibilities:
1. He agreed to do so before the draft. The Celtics knew they’d run into roster-space issues, and they selected the top player on their board who promised to play overseas as a condition of being drafted. That’s quite common.
2. Boston promised him a better contract next year if he delayed signing this year. Again, that’s hardly uncommon.
That's likely the same scenario for White, though we'll see about a contract for 2016-17. Granted, the Wizards should have plenty of roster space based on the amount of expiring and team-controlled deals on the current squad, but you never what the world likes down the line. For now, both White and Thornton begin their careers somewhere in the world besides the NBA.