If the Chicago Bulls do end up trading reserve guard Coby White, they might have a taker in the Los Angeles Lakers. That is the situation at hand with the latest hypothetical that would send White West while bringing back a local product.
Heading into his fourth season, White has yet to establish himself as a reliable role player in the NBA. But that does not mean the Bulls should be looking to give him away.
His reward for a career year from beyond the arc has been constant trade rumors that Bleacher Report’s Adam Wells reported some expected to culminate on draft night. Instead, he remains a member of the roster for the time being.
That may very well change if the Lakers come calling.
Coby White in the Wild West?
The Los Angeles Times’ Dan Woike wrote about the Lakers having some interest in White. The 6-foot-5 guard out of North Carolina was the seventh overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He was also the final draft selection of former Bulls vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman.
L.A., in dire financial straits to fill out their roster with limited resources, could use what White offers.
“The Lakers could also look to acquire players via trade, with rival executives believing Chicago’s Coby White could be a target. Moving Talen Horton-Tucker, a player whose ball-dominant skills are viewed by rival scouts as being redundant with the Lakers’ stars, could be a way to upgrade to suit the Lakers’ needs.”
Horton-Tucker will make $10.2 million next year and has an $11 million player option for 2023-23, per Spotrac.com.
White shot 38.5% from three-point range last season on 5.8 attempts per game. But, in the postseason, he shot just 27.6% from three.
He also appeared in a career-low 61 games while averaging just 2.9 assists. His efficiency would have ranked seventh on the Lakers last season, per NBA.com. But his attempts would have tied for second.
The Bulls could stand to get more out of White, as Forbes’ Jason Patt explained. But with no signs of an extension coming, it makes sense for the Bulls to look to flip White for a more useful piece now. The question for the Bulls is whether or not Horton Tucker is that piece.
THT from the CHI
Horton-Tucker is a Chicago native who starred at Simeon Academy. That is the alma mater of former Bulls point guard Derrick Rose as well as Chicago basketball legend Ben Wilson. The 6-foot-4 Tucker was taken by the Lakers 42 selections after White.
He averaged 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season – both career-highs – while also chipping in 2.7 assists.
But he shot just 26.9% from three last season, and his efficiency from long distance has dropped in each of his first three seasons. Still, the wide-bodied wing possesses a 7-foot-1-plus wingspan, per The Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan, at a listed 234 pounds.
Horton-Tucker did post the best on-off differential of his career, per Cleaning the Glass. So did White. But the former’s net differential was plus-0.5 while the latter’s was minus-0.5.
The Lakers wing is also nine months younger than White, 22, and will not turn 22 himself until November. That youth would serve him well if the Bulls had not drafted Dalen Terry with the 18th-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
White may be redundant given the Bulls’ guard depth. But Horton-Tucker would be redundant on the Bulls too just as he is on the Lakers being a non-shooter with Terry on the Bulls’ roster.
Tucker Over White (and Terry)
The rookie has yet to take a shot in an NBA game. He profiles as a better shooter than the three-year veteran was coming out of college. That does not account for experience, though, and Horton-Tucker has plenty of it.
That is especially true in the playoffs where he won a ring with the Lakers as a rookie.
The Bulls also would have as good of an idea of what he could bring as any outside team with his former Lakers teammate, Alex Caruso, already a vital member of the team.
Perhaps the Bulls feel more comfortable in their ability to add another shooter than they do a battle-tested defender. There are not many other reasons they would pursue this type of swap given their stated needs which have yet to be addressed in size and shooting.