DENVER -- The Denver Nuggets signed free agent forward
Rodney White to a two-year deal Tuesday, a day after a judge allowed
him to leave Washington D.C. for the first time since his arrest
last month on a gun charge.
White's future in the NBA was in doubt after a Secret Service
officer arrested him and two other men Sept. 5 for randomly shooting
a gun in the air. White spent 10 days in jail and wasn't allowed to
go 30 miles outside of Washington until Monday.
"I'm so thankful that the Nuggets stood behind me during a
tough time," White said Tuesday, the first day of Denver's
training camp. "Everybody let me know that this was home and I'm
happy to be back. It was a mistake, just being a little stupid. I
learned from it, I learned a valuable lesson, and I'm moving on."
White still faces a felony charge of unlawful discharge of a
gun, but Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said he expects
that to be reduced to a misdemeanor or less through a plea bargain.
White's contract can be voided if he is convicted of a felony.
White averaged 7.5 points and 2.3 rebounds with the Nuggets last
season, his second in Denver. He also played one season in Detroit.
Vandeweghe has prided himself on bringing in players who can be
role models in the community since becoming Denver's GM three years
ago. He said White's incident was an isolated case.
"Rodney's been part of our family for two years now,"
Vandeweghe said. "Been great, been a good player for us and been a
great individual. We all make mistakes. This was something that was
non-intentional. He acknowledges it was a mistake and will try to
turn it into a positive."
White said he started working out as soon as he was released
from jail and wrote a letter to Vandeweghe explaining how the jail
time changed his perspective on life.
"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy," White said. "It was a
very small cell, 23-hour lockdown. I only got one hour a day of
freedom so I had a lot of time to just stare at the wall and get my
thoughts together. I know that I'm not a bad person or a bad kid."
The Nuggets also signed free agent Greg Buckner, a defensive
specialist who's expected to fill backup roles at guard and small
forward. He averaged 5.3 points per game in five seasons with
Philadelphia and Dallas.
"This team likes to play defense and I think the organization
is heading in the right direction to win a championship," Buckner
said. "I want to be a part of it."
Denver also added nine players for the start of training camp:
veterans Mitchell Butler, Desmond Penigar, Mark Pope, Bryon Russell
and Soumaila Samake and rookies Marcus Hatten, Arthur Johnson,
Billy Keys and Melvin Sanders.