Billy Donovan’s Recent Comments on Coby White Could Go Either Way

Getty Coby White

When a head coach calls a player a “winning player,” it’s a compliment, but depending on the situation, it could be the precursor to a separation between the player and the team.

Coby White has been playing excellent basketball over the past 12 games. He’s shooting 46% from three-point range during that time. He’s proven he can be effective as a starter and a reserve, which is key because when the team is full strength, his ideal role is as a high-scoring, playmaking sixth-man.

Perhaps most importantly, White has improved about as much as any guard I can remember watching on the defensive end. It’s tough to recall a guard White’s age who has gone from being a generally poor defender to what I’d describe as an above-average one currently.

Whether it is screen navigation or simply staying in front of top-flight NBA guards or giving a strong effort in the post when caught against a bigger offensive player in the post, White’s improvement has been noticeable.

That’s a big reason why Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan described White as “winning player” during a recent postgame presser.

He’s earned the label, but was this an indication the Bulls are holding on to White, whose name has frequented trade rumor concepts with this publication and others, or a statement that is acknowledging his potential value when Chicago pulls the trigger on a deal?

Coby White: For the Journey

If White continues to play at the level he has in December and so far through January, he can undoubtedly be a huge asset to the Bulls’ postseason run. White’s improved shooting, defense and decision making can fit into any team’s mix.

The Bulls do have three guards ahead of him in the pecking order in Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, but because all of them can play multiple roles in the backcourt, it’s been proven it can all work together. With Caruso coming back next week, the Bulls will hopefully get a good look at what their entire backcourt rotation will look like.

Quite honestly, you’d be hard-pressed to find a team with a better foursome of guards to throw at an opponent.

Coby White: Trade Value

With the way White has played recently and with his age (21), the Bulls’ young guard has increased his trade value. White’s professional attitude and competitiveness are another plus if any team is considering acquiring him.

The Bulls could use White to help to fill their power forward spot that was vacated by Patrick Williams’ injury. The decision to trade White should depend on the team’s belief in Williams’ ability to return this season.

If Chicago believes Williams can be back just before the postseason, perhaps to play in 8-10 games before the playoffs, the need to trade White isn’t as high. Getting Williams back in late March or by mid-April could be the equivalent of a late-season trade, only the Bulls wouldn’t have to part ways with an asset like White.

That would also keep the Bulls stocked with talented youngsters whose development can take the sting away from losing draft picks to acquire guys like Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan.

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