Bulls ‘All In’ on Keeping Former Top-10 Pick This Offseason: Report

Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

Letting their former first-round picks walk out of the door has burned Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas multiple times in recent years. And it appears Karnisovas is all but getting out of that line of thinking.

[Coby] White is a restricted free agent, and the Bulls are all in on matching any offer he gets on the market,” reported Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times on April 22.

White, the 22-year-old former seventh-overall pick, is coming off his most complete season as a professional despite steps back in points, assists, and rebounds. He showed better defense, handles, and command of the offense in a more clearly defined role than in previous seasons. Much of that is thanks to being healthy this past offseason allowing him to work on his game.

It could lead to a shot at a starting role he wasn’t in contention for last year.

White has made no bones about his desires to start and, after he averaged 13.6 points on 64.8% true shooting with 4.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds, and a .543/.442/1.000 slash line over the last 15 regular season games, he could be the Bulls’ best option.

Bulls Other In-House Options Limited

[Patrick] Beverley was instrumental in the second-half surge,” notes Cowley, “but his asking price is not a fit with the Bulls.”

The Bulls capped a disappointing season on a high note, going 14-9 after the All-Star break after adding Beverley off a buyout from the Orlando Magic. He was commended to a man for bringing leadership and intensity to the group but said on his podcast that he would expect his next contract to come in somewhere between $13 million – the amount he made on his last contract – and $15 million, depending on the NBA’s new CBA.

Chicago’s finances are already tight with several needs to address this offseason.

That could already have an adverse effect on the Bulls’ opening-day starting point guard who Beverley replaced, Ayo Dosunmu.

“Karnisovas wants to keep Dosunmu in the mix, but that will be tough,” Cowley speculates.

Dosunmu will also be a restricted free agent. He regressed this season, most notably in his playmaking and three-point shooting both of which are critical areas if he is to support the Bulls’ offense-oriented top trio of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. But the Chicago-native is could still garner enough interest on the open market to make things interesting.

“Guard Ayo Dosunmu has also generated some trade interest,” reported Sam Amico of Hoops Wire in January ahead of the trade deadline, “Pistons and Hornets being mentioned as two teams mildly in pursuit.”

Bulls Remain In Holding Pattern With Lonzo Ball

All of this stems from the absence of Lonzo Ball who has been sidelined since last January with a knee injury that has required three surgical procedures. The latest is expected to knock him out for most if not all of the 2023-24 campaign.

Even more alarming, no other player in NBA history has been able to make a comeback after undergoing similar procedures.

Karniovas remained non-committal on Ball citing the point guard’s nebulous timeline.

But the Bulls’ architect was also clear that the team would look to change its shot profile next season with a heavier emphasis on three-point shooting noting both personnel and creation which could bode well for White but would seem to suggest the need to address the position in earnest in some way this offseason as he has otherwise largely committed to this group again.

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