Bulls’ Former Top Pick Could Be Primed for ‘Blow Up’ Next Season

Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls.

At this point of the offseason, the Chicago Bulls’ attention is on their own free agents. They have already opened talks with big man Nikola Vucevic on a potential contract extension the ripple effect of which could impact several other players down the roster.

Perhaps chief among them is Coby White. The 23-year-old guard is heading into his fifth NBA season and is a restricted free agent.

“Coby White’s failure to meet expectations as the No. 7 overall pick from 2019 is at least partly due to a tough situation,” wrote Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report on May 31. “The only thing he needs to bust out is a chance to play someplace that doesn’t have well-compensated All-Stars and All-Defensive team members ahead of him in the pecking order.”

Hughes’ piece set out to identify players who could “break out” on new teams.

White is already a rarity on the Bulls’ roster as one of just two players not acquired by executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. The other is two-time All-Star Zach LaVine who, despite trade rumors over the last two transaction windows, remains in Chicago on the richest contract in franchise history.

There won’t be a $215 million payday in White’s future like there was for LaVine last summer but the former North Carolina standout could still pique some teams’ interest.

He also does not seem to be the

“White has excellent positional size at 6’5″, reps as a primary ball-handler and secondary scorer, an 85.4% career free-throw percentage that suggests his 36.7% hit rate from deep will climb and promising per-minute numbers for his age,” Hughes writes.

But the belief is that White’s best option could be returning to the Bulls.

Coby White Could Have Limited Market

In a conversation with Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney, one rival general manager revealed how White is still viewed by other teams. Perhaps in a bit of irony, White is hitting restricted free agency after his worst statistical season considering his points, rebounds, and assists all fell as he was confined to a bench role all year.

“The problem for him is that type is not really a type that is being smiled on these days,” the GM tells Heavy Sports, summing up the 23-year-old former pick as a “high volume, low-efficiency scorer off the bench.”

His notable gains – ball control, defense, IQ – didn’t always show up in the stat sheet.

“Not that much has changed,” the GM tells Heavy Sports. “He wants it to change. He wants to be an NBA starter and there are not many teams that will see him as that—he is not the passer or playmaker he needs to be for a starter. He is a scorer, a scoring guard. Jamal Crawford, Lou Williams, that type.“

Coby White Could Get Opportunity to Replace Lonzo Ball

There is a chance that White gets the chance to win the starting point guard role next season after barely being under consideration for it at this time last year. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan noted White is better equipped to do so now during his exit interview on April 15.

“You don’t come (into) the league thinking, ‘I’m cool coming off the bench’, ” White told Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Yeah, I’ll play whatever role for whatever team I’m on, for sure. But my goal is to be a starter. That ain’t gonna change.”

Intended starter Lonzo Ball is set to miss most if not all of next season — and possibly more — and White already has two years of experience working with this core group.

A Bulls front office that pushed continuity last season might want to run it back with White.

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