Bulls Have ‘Known’ Trade Interest in Sixers Starter, Could Unload Coby White in Deal: Report

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls shoots the ball against Matisse Thybulle #22 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Chicago Bulls are looking to duck the luxury tax. This is not a matter of frugality, though. It is an effort to maintain the use of their full mid-level exception. As a hard-capped team with limited assets to improve, that is critical.

Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas spoke of improving on the margins. But that was in reference to maintaining roster continuity.

Despite that, one Eastern Conference executive tells Heavy’s Sean Deveney that they have eyes on swapping Coby White for Philadelphia 76ers perimeter stopper, Matisse Thybulle.

A White-for-Thybulle Swap

On the court, White went from being a starter to the bench this season. While his 12.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game were career-lows, he shot career-highs from the floor (43.3%) and from beyond the arc (38.5%).

Marc Eversley has a strong belief in Matisse, so if they can get a third team under the cap that wants Coby White, they could get something done.

Thybulle has never been much of a scorer with a career-best 5.7 points per game this season. His three-ball was once the most consistent part of his offensive game. But he shot just 31.3% from deep last season which was an improvement over the previous year.

What he is, however, is a stifling perimeter defender as The Sporting News’ Benyam Kidane explained in March.

The numbers paint a comprehensive picture of his defensive impact, made all the more impressive given he only plays 26.3 minutes per game. He ranks ninth in the league in steals per game (1.8) and third in deflections (3.7) while averaging 1.1 blocks per game, which leads all guards in the NBA.

The Bulls would be swapping out three-point shooting – White tied with Matt Thomas with his three-point efficiency – for perimeter stopping.

Opponents shot 36.6% from three against the Bulls during the regular season, the fourth-highest mark in the league, per NBA.com.

Flexibility and Function

Chicago is hoping to re-sign Zach LaVine to a max contract expected to be in the neighborhood of $200 million this summer, per NBA Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer, putting them in danger of paying the luxury tax.

This swap would net a usable asset in Thybulle while also shaving roughly $3 million from their books. That keeps their mid-level exception worth $10.3 million intact.

The Bulls are near the tax, they would like to get off of that, get to a point where they are comfortably below and can use their full midlevel exception. So, moving Coby White but taking in a smaller amount would help.

They can renounce the cap holds of Derrick Jones Jr. and Troy Brown Jr. to create approximately $28 million of combined breathing room, per Spotrac’s roster manager.

The Bulls can create another $2 million by renouncing Matt Thomas’ cap hold.

That would give them about $12 million below the tax line assuming LaVine signs a max deal. Signing that draft pick would bring their tax number down below $10 million so this is far from cut-and-dry.

Portland is probably the best candidate, but Indiana could fit, too. They just need a team that would be willing and able to add a first-round pick. Portland can do that, Indiana has Cleveland’s pick next year.

Most Feasible Option

The Bulls cannot trade the 18th-overall selection in this June’s NBA Draft. They can trade whatever player they take after making the selection, though. But the executive says that the finances will play a role in Philly too.

Chicago gets Thybulle and saves a little money, the Blazers get White and the Sixers create a little more room and get a first-round pick they can use elsewhere.

This is, arguably, the most feasible potential swap — of players selected 13 spots apart in 2019 — to come out and could benefit everyone involved, including giving White a fresh start.

The Eversley connection is also nothing to sneeze at.

His ability to form relationships was a highlight of his resume. Could that play a part, not only with Thybulle but also with Daryl Morey who was hired about six months after Eversley left Philadelphia?

As we get deeper into the Bulls’ offseason, and other teams have joined them, the rumor mill is kicking into high gear.

Expect that to continue with the draft just over a month away on June 23.

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