The time for Aaron White joining the Washington Wizards might be finally upon us.
The key word is might, but the path is more apparent than ever since the Wizards selected the 6-foot-8 forward 49th overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Buzz of White, Washington’s 2015 second-round selection, joining the Wizards surfaced in April based on sources to NBC Sports Washington at the time. Problem: The Wizards did not have a general manager to make such a call. They still do not, though Tommy Sheppard continues serving as the interim leader of Washington’s front office.
Now that the University of Iowa product completed his fourth professional season overseas, noise from across the pond about an NBA appearance surfaced.
Speaking on Zalgiris TV, Aaron White told he is close to NBA: “I wish I could tell you yes or no (if he'll play in NBA next season). I'm close, but there is no definite answer. NBA is a dream, but I'm also realistic in terms of what's the most important for myself and my family.”— Donatas Urbonas (@Urbodo) June 4, 2019
The idea of White, 26, coming stateside is not new. He spent the last two seasons for the Lithuanian based squad Zalgiris Kaunas. The 6-foot-8 forward expressed interest in signing last off-season with the Wizards, who still maintain his rights. White actually joined the team in Las Vegas last July to chat and watch Washington’s Summer League entry.
However, the Wizards effectively filled their roster around that time by signing Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. White returned overseas and helped lead Zalgiris to a Lithuanian league title over the weekend and a Final Eight appearance in the prestigious EuroLeague after reaching the Final Four in 2018.
This time the decision is a bit more in White’s hands. The Wizards certainly have the roster space, need for rotation pieces, and according to sources, interest. More than half of the 2018-19 roster is entering some form of free agency this summer. None of the players under contract for next season play forward (Washington is not expected to pick up Jabari Parker’s $20 million team option).
The Wizards own the ninth pick in the June 20 NBA Draft but are without a second-round selection.
It remains possible that White receives a contract offer from an international team that tops one financially speaking from the Wizards. White and his representatives are expected to explore such options before the Wizards can make the forward a formal offer. The timing also allows White's side to see how the Wizards fill their front office vacancy and whether that decision alters thinking toward adding the forward for the upcoming season.
White addressed the scenario Tuesday via his Twitter account:
Every day a new story 🤦🏼♂️.. Let’s just let free agency play out and I will decide what is best for my family and me https://t.co/ZxgUZRIDNQ— Aaron White (@Aaron_White30) June 4, 2019
“Every day a new story,” White tweeted, adding the image of a facepalm emoji to express a level of frustration. “Let’s just let free agency play out and I will decide what is best for my family and me.”
White scored 13 points in the series-clinching win for Zalgiris over the weekend. In 34 EuroLeague games this season, he averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 24 minutes per game.
If he joins the NBA, White would become only the second player drafted by the Wizards to play for them since 2012 selection Tomas Satoransky.
Washington selected guard Ussaf Sanon 44th overall last year. The 19-year-old Ukraine guard played professionally in Slovenia this past season.
White’s general skill set, including an impressive vertical leap, is that of a stretch-4, though his 3-point shooting percentage in EuroLeague dropped from 39 to 33 over the past two seasons.
Aaron White sitting with the Wizards contigent. pic.twitter.com/FhfSoAkoMx— Ben Standig (@BenStandig) July 8, 2018
Last summer he told the reporter, then with The Sports Capitol, “I feel like I needed all three years (overseas). Every year was a different situation. They asked me to do different things. I feel like I got some experience under my belt. I’m more used to the pro game. Obviously it’s (not the NBA), but still playing professional (basketball). I felt great after my third year and ready to explore some options.”
Exploring options remains the play after his fourth year with the Wizards’ in the mix.
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