Even though the offseason has come to a crawl, the Chicago Bulls still have some important decisions to make as training camp approaches.
The Bulls have important contract decisions to make with center Nikola Vucevic and young point guard Coby White. Vucevic is heading into the final year of his contract, and White has a $22.2 million cap hold for the 2023-24 season unless they sign him to an extension or waive his rights.
It’s been well-documented that White was on the trade block after the season, but the Bulls never got the kind of offer that they wanted. With that in mind, the Bulls could decide to extend White now with the hopes that his play will improve this season.
Extension Makes Sense
In an August 11 story in Forbes, Morten Jensen suggested that signing White to an extension could help the Bulls in multiple ways.
Not only would teams then know what type of salary White is earning in 2023-2024, but there would be no Poison Pill status (which only applies after signing an extension, but before it actually kicks in), thus simplifying potential trades.
The 2023 market should be more open, and have more money to go around, making it easier for teams to absorb a part of White’s contract if they so choose. The Bulls won’t be under the cap, presumably, so they would be sending out the full amount of what White’s first-year extension salary would be, and if the receiving team can absorb a portion of that, they only need to match salary for the remaining bit.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume White signs the aforementioned $60 million over four years, which actually seems like a fair deal all things considered.
The Bulls, and their trade partner, would both fully avoid any RFA nastiness, and allow White to move on without being forced to take into account contractual restrictions. That’s about as smooth of a runway the Bulls can make the White situation.
That’s a pretty good explanation and reason as to why the Bulls could extend White before the season. The team could always trade him later and perhaps he’ll even up his trade value by playing better this season.
White is still just 22 years old with plenty of time to return to the form he showed at times during his rookie season. The Bulls’ backcourt is crowded, so he’ll have to play well to earn significant playing time.
The Bulls also have concerns beyond just contracts going into the season. The team still has some weaknesses on the roster like rim protection, defense and 3-point shooting.
None of the Bulls’ offseason moves really addressed any of these weaknesses, so it remains to be seen if those issues will continue this season. If those issues do continue then the Bulls could be in for a tough season.
If the Bulls do struggle early in the season then the team could look to make a move to improve the roster but only time will tell as the season approaches.