The price was fairly high for the Nuggets, who sent center Mengke Bateer, forward Don Reid and a 2003 first-round pick that belonged to Milwaukee for White.
"It's difficult to trade a young talented player like Rodney White, but we feel this move adds depth to our front line and gives us flexibility for the future," said Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars.
White, 22, spent just one season at North Carolina-Charlotte. He did the same at Detroit, playing just 16 games and averaging 3.5 points and 1.1 rebounds per contest as he was buried behind Michael Curry and Corliss Williamson, who was named Sixth Man of the Year.
The Pistons also used their 2002 first-round pick on Tayshaun Prince of Kentucky, another small forward who outplayed White during the team's summer league.
The trade makes the rebuilding Nuggets even younger. On draft day, General Manager Kiki Vandeweghe swung a deal that landed the Nuggets teenage foreigners Nene Hilario and Nikoloz Tskitishvili.
The trade is the second for Detroit in less than three weeks.
They sent star guard Jerry Stackhouse, forward Brian Cardinal and center Ratko Varda to the Washington Wizards for guards Richard Hamilton and Hubert Davis and swingman Bobby Simmons, who since has been waived.
Bateer, 26, appeared in 27 games, including 10 starts, with Denver last season and averaged 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 15.1 minutes.
Bateer, signed by Denver as a free agent last February, joined Wang Zhizhi as the second Chinese player to join the NBA. The 6-11, 290-pounder teamed with Zhizhi and Yao Ming, the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, on the Chinese National Team.
Reid, 28, begins his second stint with the Pistons after being drafted by them in 1995. He averaged 3.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in five seasons with the Pistons.
The 6-8, 250-pounder averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 68 games with the Orlando Magic last season and was traded to Denver on Aug. 1.
Reid has played in 402 games with Detroit, Washington and Orlando, averaging 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.3 minutes.