The San Antonio Spurs parted with a previously important member of their team at the NBA trade deadline when they decided to send Derrick White to the Boston Celtics.
White has made his impact apparent for the Celtics throughout key moments of the playoffs. When a player like him who spent four and a half seasons with the organization is no longer there, other players have to step up as leaders.
Josh Richardson, who was traded to the Spurs in part of the deal that sent White to the Celtics, took it upon himself to be a leader in the Spurs' locker room. It's a role he looks forward to filling during the 2022-23 season.
"I kind of became a leader in the locker room," Richardson told "Jefe Island" in a recent video. "I felt I played well so hopefully I can carry that into next season."
The Spurs have invested a lot into making upgrading their wing rotation using lottery picks in recent years. Between Devin Vassell and Joshua Primo, having a veteran wing that can lead by example could help their development.
"It's exciting to come here and help these young guys figure out how to play," Richardson said. "How to grow."
Richardson has not found a consistent situation in the NBA since spending the initial four seasons of his career with the Miami Heat. He spent one season each with the Philadelphia 76ers (2019-20) and Dallas Mavericks (2020-21) before being traded last offseason to the Boston Celtics.
Richardson played just 44 games coming off the bench for the Celtics. He was coming off a poor shooting season with the Mavericks (33.0 percent) that ultimately resulted in getting gradually phased out from their first-round playoff series against the LA Clippers. He managed to get his 3-point percentage back to a 39.7 percent clip with the Celtics before being traded.
"Just working at it. Getting back into conditioning," Richardson said. "It's a never-ending process. I'm just in here working. I got about 140 days until the next season so I got to use all of them."
After being traded to the Spurs, Richardson started in just seven of his 21 appearances and averaged 11.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. He hit his stride particularly from beyond the arc by shooting 44.4 percent on 4.3 attempts per game.
It remains to be seen if the Spurs will make a trade involving Richardson in the offseason. They've been linked as being a logical landing spot for a variety of potential talents like Deandre Ayton and Zach LaVine. In some scenarios, Richardson's $12.2 million salary could become necessary to include in a trade.