WALTHAM, Mass. -- After nearly a full week in limbo while waiting for his clearance papers from China to arrive, forward D.J. White joined the Boston Celtics on the practice floor Thursday afternoon upon (finally) inking a 10-day contract with the team.
"I'm very excited," said White. "This organization has a rich tradition, countless championships, so it's just an honor to be a part of this organization."
White joined the team in Portland at the end of its road trip, but didn't get his paperwork in time to play against either the Blazers or Jazz to close the five-game trek. With the Celtics in the midst of three consecutive days off, the team waited until Thursday to sign him, maximizing the length of his 10-day pact.
Coaches couldn't work with him on the floor before Thursday, but he was able to familiarize himself with his new teammates.
"It's been good just to meet some of the guys," said White. "I know a couple of the guys, Jeff [Green] and Chris Wilcox from Oklahoma City. Jordan Crawford, we played together in college, just meeting the rest of the guys. So it's been good."
The 26-year-old White has appeared in 124 career NBA games after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 29th overall pick in 2008. He spent 2 1/2 years in Oklahoma City before being dealt to Charlotte, where he put together a quality 2011-12 season. But he received only a couple training camp invites this offseason and determined that China was his best option.
"I was a little surprised," White said of not getting more NBA interest before the season. "I felt I played pretty decently, especially at the beginning of the season. But my minutes went down toward the end of the season, for whatever reason, but that's part of the business. You can't really dwell on that and look in the past, so I've been fortunate and blessed with another opportunity, so I just want to take advantage of that."
White averaged 21.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in 32 appearances for the Shanghai Sharks. Right before he was set to fly back to the states, he got a call from his agent informing him of Boston's interest.
He has spent the past few days just getting acclimated to being back in the country and working out on his own. White said the biggest adjustment will be diving into Boston's help defense schemes, but he knows that being a serviceable defender and rebounder is what will help him stick with the Celtics.
"It means a lot [to play for a playoff team]," said White. "It means I need to pick my stuff up early. This team is fighting for playoff position, so I just want to come in and help wherever [coach] Doc [Rivers] needs me."
Given Boston's depleted depth up front, White acknowledge the opportunity for playing time was a lure to join the Celtics.
"It was a big part," he said. "You always want to play. It's just the competitive nature of an athlete. There's been some injuries in the front court, so hopefully I can just come in and provide some energy and defensive rebounding."
White, who will wear No. 12, will be available for Friday's visit from the Golden State Warriors.
Teammate Terrence Williams, also on a 10-day deal after playing in China this season, had joked that playing there had been a wake-up call and made him appreciate the NBA opportunity. Did White enjoy his time overseas?
"It was different for me because I was in Shanghai; [Williams] was in who-knows where?" joked White. "Shanghai's kind of like New York City, so to speak, but maybe a little bit bigger. So I didn't have any problem eating. It's just when I traveled, that's when I had a problem. I adjusted pretty quickly."
Now he's hoping he can adjust again and carry some of that success in China back to the United States.