It’s a big summer for Coby White, and he knows it.
The Chicago Bulls guard is a restricted free agent, and all signs point to the team re-signing him after letting the market determine his worth first.
Bulls insider K. C. Jackson of NBC Sports projected in March that White could command $14-15 million a year moving forward now that his four-year, $24 million rookie contract is done with, and if he continues to improve on the court, that could turn out to be a value.
The seventh overall pick for the Bulls in 2019, White has been putting in some major work to improve his game this offseason. Johnny Stephene, an NBA skills trainer, shared a video of White working out, focusing on dribbling and ball handling — and the Bulls guard is looking beyond smooth.
NBA Trainer on Coby White: ‘All-Star Season Incoming’
Stephane, who has also trained Bulls veteran DeMar DeRozan for years, has been working with White since the team’s season ended in mid-April. A skilled ball handler himself, the skills coach seems entirely pleased with what he has seen from White, even going so far as making a bold prediction about the 2023-24 season.
“One of the most underrated players in the NBA. All-star season incoming,” Stephene captioned along with the video of White completing a series of impressive drills.
After playing 69 games and starting 54 at point during the 2020-21 season, when he averaged 15.1 points, 4.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds in just over 32 minutes a game, White slipped into a reserve role with the Bulls, starting 19 games over the last two seasons.
Whether White can make his first ever All-Star game next season remains to be seen, but if he continues to grow, it’s a possibility.
Will White Stay at Shooting Guard Next Season?
The Bulls added Patrick Beverley on the buyout market in the second half of last season, and he served as the team’s starting point guard for the remainder of the year. With Pat Bev likely heading to another team in free agency, the idea of White moving to point — a position he’s familiar with but not married to — has been floated by some fans and analysts.
There’s a strong argument to make for keeping White at shooting guard, though.
His numbers dipped last season, but that was due to him playing a different role. Instead of setting up shots for his teammates from the point, White played shooting guard, where he could still create yet also focus on taking his own shots.
His numbers did dip a bit in 2022-23. White averaged 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game last season (stats via Basketball Reference), but he also had a career-high field goal percentage (44%) and both his decision-making and his defense noticeably improved.
Will the team move him back to point anyway? If the Bulls don’t make any additions in free agency, it could happen.
“He’s a lot more equipped, I’d say, today to be maybe in that (starting point guard) role than he was a few years ago,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said about White after the season, via NBA.com. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Coby just the way he’s gotten better,” he added.
There’s no question White will get some attention on the market this summer, so it will be interesting to see how much the Bulls will have to match to keep him around.