AL HAMNIK: Former IU star D.J. White has the stuff Chicago Bulls need

2013-09-30T18:30:00Z 2014-06-24T18:06:29Z AL HAMNIK: Former IU star D.J. White has the stuff Chicago Bulls needAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 30, 2013 6:30 pm  • 

DEERFIELD | Remember D.J. White?

The former first-round draft pick from Indiana started 97 of 99 games with the Hoosiers, finishing his career ranked 16th in scoring, ninth in rebounding and second in field goal percentage.

White's NBA career has been in a tailspin mode -- three teams in the last five seasons -- and he currently is battling for a roster spot at Bulls training camp.

It makes me think I'd better write about the 6-foot-9, 250-pound free-agent before he's cut and moves on.

"I'm just gonna have to play hard, show that I can do what they want me to do on defense and everything else will come," White said. "I'm happy about the opportunity.

"I've been a role player my whole career. Teams really haven't asked me to score too much but I have in certain spots. This is a championship-level team, so whatever I have to do to stick, I'm willing to do."

Coach Tom Thibodeau at media day proclaimed Taj Gibson (ankle), Joakim Noah (feet) and Kirk Hinrich (hip, elbow, knee) to be 100 percent healthy, but the Bulls have always needed tough, durable guys who can be productive in the paint.

White has eight preseason games, beginning Saturday in Indianapolis, to prove he's worth keeping around.

His college career certainly had its share of potholes and slippery curves, playing for the scandalized Kelvin Sampson and then interim coach Dan Dakich, who was passed over for the permanent job.

There also were reports of suspected drug use by players on that 2007-08 roster, followed by some major housecleaning when Tom Crean was hired.

"I went through a lot of adversity," White said. "It allowed me to grow as a man. It was a great experience for me on and off the court."

He split the 2012-13 season with the Shanghai Sharks (21.6 ppg.) of the Chinese Basketball Association and the Boston Celtics (2.4), following up stints with Oklahoma City and Charlotte.

Indiana has had many players in the NBA, but few who've made an impact within the last 10 years -- other than Eric Gordon and Jared Jeffries.

"I'm trying to change that," White said. "But this is a business and guys go from team to team. Jared has moved to several teams and Eric has already been traded. I'm on my fourth team."

With a healthy Derrick Rose behind the wheel once again, the Bulls and Pacers are considered Eastern Conference co-favorites to challenge Miami.

White would love to join the ride but, if left at the curb, has a positive attitude that enables him to press on.

"It gives you an opportunity to live in a different place and see the world," he said. "Longevity in one place also is a good thing."

As he glanced at the Bulls' six championship banners hanging at the Berto Center and watched photographers follow Rose's every move during media day, White smiled and gave a thumbs up.

"Wish me luck," he said.

Here's a better one: Start turning some heads.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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