Sometimes it’s just not in the cards.
You can’t blame D.J. White for starting to feel that way about his NBA career. White came out of Indiana as the Big 10 Player of the Year, a big-time rebounder and a guy who could score inside and out. But injuries began to chip away at his game before he left Bloomington, and they are now ruining his second professional season.
White, who missed all but seven games after surgery to remove a benign growth on his jaw, is sidelined again. This time it’s a thumb injury. The Thunder announced Thursday that surgery on White’s thumb was successful and that he’ll miss six to eight weeks.
The Thunder and its rebuilding plan, meanwhile, rolls on without him.
The franchise drafted White in 2008 with the next-to-last pick of the first round, moving up to that spot by dealing second-round picks that turned out to be Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted. Ever heard of them? Didn’t think so.
White looked like one of GM Sam Presti’s early finds, and still might turn out to be. He doesn’t turn 24 until this summer.
But while White is sidelined, a couple 20-year-olds are thriving — Serge Ibaka improving by the minute and Byron Mullens gaining playing time. Neither are power forward-types like White, but with the Thunder positions don’t seem to matter much. They’re both skilled bigs, which is what White is, and both have moved ahead of him.
Short of putting Nick Collison into Etan Thomas-like mothballs — which is not going to happen — it was hard to see where White’s OKC minutes were going to come from even when healthy.
Still, before his injury White was playing well with the Thunder’s D-League team in Tulsa.
And it’s not like he’s fallen off the NBA radar. A recent highly speculative piece on NBA.com mentioned White as part of a possible package that could pry Chris Bosh from Toronto.
Highly speculative. Possible. Could. Did you count all the weasel words in that sentence? That’s because there’s almost no chance of such a deal going down. But the fact that White is mentioned by an national writer serves as a reminder of his value, talent and potential, which for now is going to have to sustain D.J. White as he once more starts the comeback trail.