Bulls Insider Says Former Top 10 Pick ‘Almost Became an Afterthought’

Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls watches action during a game

The Chicago Bulls preached a message of continuity in exit interviews following their ouster from the Eastern Conference postseason. But Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas has already said the team has “got to explore everything.”

Even Magic Johnson urged the Bulls to pursue “trades and moves” this offseason.

One player to keep an eye on in trade talks is former first-round pick Coby White, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“By the playoffs, he almost became an afterthought,” Johnson wrote in a May 2 story headlined “Who Stays? Who Leaves?” White “could be moved for right opportunity,” Johnson wrote.

What Is White’s Value?

Johnson hung a metaphorical “open for business” sign over White’s locker, writing: “A season that began in delayed fashion following offseason shoulder surgery never quite achieved consistency.”

White, who was the Bulls’ seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, did score in double-digits more than times than not (37 games to 24 games) while hitting career-highs shooting from the floor and beyond the arc.

It is fair to wonder what White’s value is.

“White’s role fluctuated — from starter to reserve, from off-ball to on — and so did his playing time,” Johnson wrote.

He missed the first 13 games of the regular season, which could have played a part in his slow start. White averaged 6.1 points on 34.9% shooting while knocking down 22.6% of his threes with 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists over his first nine appearances of the season.

During stretch, he sank just 57.1% of his free throws and offered little else on the court if wasn’t scoring.

In the playoffs, White hit just 8-of-29 triples, including 4-of-13 in the decisive Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

White’s Unsettled Future

In his exit interview on April 28, White said that this summer would be the first one in which he will be able to take full advantage of the offseason. The COVID-19 pandemic limited offseason activities in 2020, and he dealt with the shoulder this past summer.

He said he felt that he has a good sense of the type of player he can become and that he showed flashes this season citing the Bulls’ 120-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs on February 14.

White had 24 points, six assists and five rebounds while drawing the start.

Further to his point, he averaged 17.3 points on 67.8% true shooting and hit 48.2% of his threes from December 27 to January 19 drawing seven starts in 13 games with 3.5 assists, 2.8 boards, and 1.0 steals.

White never scored fewer than 13 points in that stretch.

There was also a seven-game stretch from February 3 to February 16 in which he averaged 19.6 points on 69.6% true shooting with White drawing four starts in that stretch. The Bulls went 13-7 across both stretches combined but were also 14-7 in games that White missed this season.

A Package Deal?

Some executives have said they believe that White and Vucevic could be a package deal this offseason with the Bulls looking to improve. The thought is that the pair, along with the Bulls’ 18th overall pick in coming June’s draft, could bring back someone on the level of Bradley Beal.

With soon-to-be free agent Zach LaVine’s return still uncertain, some fairly outlandish suggestions for the Bulls have been floated. And there have some recommendations on what to do with center Nikola Vucevic.

Vucevic, who will be 32 when the 2022-23 season starts, is “more likely to return than not,” Johnson wrote, perhaps to the chagrin of Bulls fans who want the team to pursue an upgrade at center. Vucevic had his least productive season since 2017-18.

The Bulls are one week into their offseason with the NBA Draft Combine and Lottery beginning on May 16. They are still nearly two months until the moratorium on tampering begins on July 1.

Read More