There were more than a few questioning whether White is Chicago’s answer at point guard, with most leaning toward the negative.
With White suffering a labrum injury that may keep him out of action for six months and threatens to impact his training camp and the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Chicago’s sense of urgency to improve the PG situation should rise to another level.
One analyst proposes Chicago and the New Orleans Pelicans work together on a deal.
Andrew Miller of Pippen Ain’t Easy constructed the following deal, and offered his rationale:
- Bulls Get: Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe
- Pelicans Get: Lauri Markkanen, Coby White and Thaddeus Young
This surely is a lot for the Bulls to give up to get Lonzo from the Pelicans. But there’s not a whole lot that the Bulls aren’t getting back from the Pelicans in this trade deal when it’s all said and done. The Bulls get the veteran former Milwaukee Bucks guard Bledsoe along with Lonzo in a sign-and-trade from the Pelicans. In return, the Bulls ship off veteran forward Thaddeus Young, Coby, and Lauri. It would be tough for the Bulls to part ways with Thad and Coby, but it would be worth it to get more veteran help to round out the backcourt rotation and to get the point guard of the future in Lonzo. This would help elevate the Bulls into more of a contender spot in the Eastern Conference for the next few years.
As most Bulls fans know, the Ball rumors were common around the trade deadline this past regular season. Ball wound up staying with the Pelicans, and he’ll now be a restricted free agent.
Markkanen is in the same situation, which makes the two a natural fit to be dealt for the other. The other pieces of the deal might raise a few more eyebrows.
Chicago Would Be Cut Eric Bledsoe Loose as Soon as Possible
Bledsoe is one of the more physically talented guards in the NBA. However, the 31-year-old, 11-year veteran is on the downside of his career. He’s coming off a season in New Orleans that saw him average 12.2 points per game.
That’s the lowest point total per game for him since the 2012-13 season. Bledsoe is not a great outside shooter (34% from three in 2020-21 and just under that for his career), and he’s no longer the hard-nosed defensive player he was during his prime. Matching a player with declining skills with a young team looking to climb can be tricky. It’s tougher when there is a tough contract attached.
Bledsoe is in the midst of a four-year, $70 million deal. He is guaranteed $18.1 million next season, though the 2022-23 season is only partially guaranteed at $3.9 million.
At this point in his career, he’s not a winning basketball player, and he doesn’t fit what the Bulls are trying to build. They may need to take him back in a deal because the Pelicans may want Young.
If it is the only way for the Bulls to get Ball, then it may be worth it.
White and Ball Might Have Been Solid Teammates
Parting ways with White might be the hardest aspect of the proposed trade. While he has struggled to grasp the point guard role, his heart, resiliency and explosive scoring have been noteworthy.
He also could be an excellent teammate for Ball, who loves to distribute.
NBC Sports’ KC Johnson wrote about the Bulls’ initial pursuit of Ball and White’s improved play alongside Nikola Vucevic.
The Bulls engaged in trade talks centered on Ball at the March trade deadline, so the fact they are seeking an upgrade at the lead guard position is no secret. But head coach Billy Donovan consistently cited how Nikola Vučević’s arrival benefitted White, who landed in more catch-and-shoot situations and whose decision-making chores dropped once the All-Star center arrived.
White’s injury is a tough pill to swallow because he desperately needs his offseason to continue to improve, and being sidelined may force the Bulls to cut him loose to keep from having their overall growth stagnated.
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