With the NBA season just weeks away, the New York Knicks hosted their annual Media Day at the team's training facility early Monday.
With talks of championship hopes, the team is clearly made up proven veterans and big names ready to contribute right off the bat. That said, New York will also bring six players into training camp on non-guaranteed contracts. The organization will be watching these players closely, hoping a select few can potentially end up with the Erie BayHawks in the D-League after camp is over.
So where does swingman James "Flight" White quite fit into things? Shortly after the offseason began, the Knicks made him one of their first summer acquisitions, signing the overseas product to a one year guaranteed contract.
Despite being thrown into the fray amongst much bigger and more notable names, White expects to contribute this season. Still, the 6'7" pro knows he needs to make the most of every opportunity.
Speaking with RidiculousUpside.com, White said, "I just need to focus on trying to make plays. I'm going to do my best on both ends of the floor every opportunity I get. I want to make the opportunities memorable, that way everyone knows I was there. That's all I'm trying to do."
Though the high-flyer remains optimistic about receiving chances to display his talents, the Knicks' likely rotation is already filled with an array of NBA veterans who have already made their mark. On the flip side, White is returning stateside after spending the past few seasons in both Russia and Italy.
Having last played in The Association in 2009 (he was also part of the D-League Expansion Draft that same year, selected by the Maine Red Claws), White has only appeared in a total of NBA 10 contests. Although he's scheduled to turn 30 years old prior to the start of the season, does the swingman envision himself logging some minutes in the D-League as he waits for chances to come along with the Knicks?
"Nah, I don't envision nothing about the D-League," he said. "I consider myself a veteran. I've been playing in Italy for like the past five years at the highest level. I feel like this is my opportunity to show people I can play. I believe I'm just as good as anybody in the league, so I'm just going to show people that."
Everyone has their own path when it comes to working towards finally breaking into the NBA. Many players use the D-League because its closer to home, and often the quickest way of getting an instant call-up. That said, recognizing normally more lucrative opportunities in perhaps a more formal professional setting, other hopefuls choose to play overseas. White paved his individual path, and lucky for him, the Knicks took notice.
Even so, if the minutes aren't available at a given time, couldn't White still benefit from a stint or two in the D-League, simply as means to stay loose, if nothing else? The Knicks proved this was a worthwhile option for the likes of Jeremy Lin and Jerome Jordan last season.
Based on his overseas experience, it seems as though the athletic White would dominate D-League competition. Such an opportunity to do so may even be enough to convince the Knicks he's deserving of some key NBA minutes.
The potential benefit is certainly present, but after working so hard to finally return to the NBA, perhaps White also just wants to embrace that big league atmosphere and culture---even if it means waiting patiently for his chance to hit the big league hardwood. Thus, instead logging minutes in the D-League may not be for everyone.