Bulls Keeping Options Open with Former Top-10 Pick’s Future

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls advances the ball

What has seemed like fait accompli for the Chicago Bulls and Coby White has gone down a rather interesting path. White not receiving another contract from the team may not be the foregone conclusion it has seemed to be.

We have heard White’s name in trade rumors since the emergence of Ayo Dosunmu last season.

The Bulls turned down “significant interest” in the North Carolina product at the 2022 NBA Draft, reported The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. They have no intention of “just giving him away”, says The Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley.

But Cowley adds the entire ordeal could mean that White is a Bulls longer than expected.

Setting the Market

Before the draft, the Bulls were seeking a “young, rotation player and draft pick” to deal away White, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported. Per Cowley, White has been on the trade block for the “last year”.

But Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas did not like any of the “underwhelming” offers.

Still, the team somewhat surprisingly went about building up guard depth this offseason leaving the fourth-year guard “on the outside looking in” since they don’t plan on extending him, either.

“The Bulls seem poised to keep White for depth purposes, revisit his trade value at the deadline if the backcourt is healthy, and if he is a Bull come next summer, simply let the market set a price on him and decide if the restricted free agent would be worth matching.”

We have heard plenty about all of those possibilities outside of matching the contract. And even that has gotten some outside consideration.

Forbes’ Morten Jensen urged the Bulls to consider holding onto White with an extension.

His argument was they could avoid the scenario that Cowley now suggests the Bulls are fully preparing for. The disdain for restricted free agency among league executives could make White more attractive on a locked-in number.

“Teams aren’t exactly enthusiastic about dealing with restricted free agency, especially when it comes to players who are valued over the NTMLE, but below the max…If the Bulls extend White and keep him around for another 18-ish months, you can shop him as a young player locked in for X amount of years, offering teams more contractual certainty…Most likely, some teams will be more inclined to trade for a long-term contract than wanting to deal with RFA.”

Especially because there is a chance that White’s number could rise quite a bit in restricted free agency if his offseason pays off.

Putting in the Work

By all accounts, White has been having a great offseason. He noted during his exit interview that he was excited for the first healthy offseason in his NBA career. It appears that he has been taking full advantage, says Cowley.

“According to a source, White has had a great offseason of work, not only improving his body in the physicality department, but his footwork and ballhandling.”

Those were things that White mentioned he wanted to work on in that exit interview.

But, as Cowley notes, he is not the only Bulls guard who has drawn positive reviews for improving this summer. He lists both Dosumnu and Dalen Terry as having notable offseasons from what he is hearing.

One league executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that Dosunmu made White expendable last season while Terry, some figured, was already going to push Patrick Williams.

Lonzo Ball’s heath lingers like a black cloud over the team’s outlook.

But the Bulls brought in Goran Dragic to man the point guard position even if he is slowed or out to start the season with his balky knee. The best-case scenario for the Bulls might be for White to rebuild his value by the deadline.

But that would likely mean they were deadline with Ball or some other significant injury. What would that likely mean for their season?

White Has Value to Bulls

For all of his faults, White returns as one of the Bulls’ top-three three-point shooters behind only Ball and Zach LaVine knocking down 38.5% of his triples. Williams led the team last season at 51.7% but did so in only 17 regular season games.

He did shoot 39.1% from deep as a rookie but averages just 1.9 attempts in his career. White shoots 36.5% from outside for his career but takes 6.1 attempts per game.

Cowley notes how, when the Bulls relied on White during the playoffs, he responded with outings of 12 and 17 points. But he shot just 6-of-19 from three in those games and 8-of-29 for the series.

That was his first time in the postseason, though, just as it was for many players on the roster. It should only serve him well in what is a pivotal season for White and the Bulls.

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