Bulls’ Zach LaVine Sends 3-Word Message to Coby White After Career Night

Coby White, Chicago Bulls

Getty Coby White #0 of the Chicago Bulls.

What was arguably the biggest night of Chicago Bulls guard Coby White’s career didn’t count.

White led the Bulls with 42 points in a 131-116 route of the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the Play-In Tournament. The points would be a career-high, but Play-In stats do not count.

White admitted he is counting the performance. But he is officially left to relish in the victory with his teammates, one of whom took a moment to celebrate White even though he was not part of the win.

“COBY!!! Special performance,” LaVine posted on X on April 17, tagging White.

White shot 71.4% from the floor, connecting on three of his seven looks from beyond the arc. He also had nine rebounds, six assists, two steals, and zero turnovers.

The Bulls’ social media team took advantage of the performance, using it to punctuate White’s case for Most Improved Player. White set career highs with 19.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 37.6% from downtown this season.

He also set the franchise single-season record for made threes.

White would be the first Bull to win the award since Jimmy Butler in 2014-15 and just the second player in franchise history.

Coby White, Bulls Put ‘Pressure’ on Hawks’ Defense

Originally selected with the No. 7 overall pick of the 2019 draft, White spent the better part of his career in a fluctuating role and even on the trade block.

The Bulls re-signed White to a three-year, $36 million contract this past offseason, and he earned the starting point guard role after finishing the 2022-23 season strong. White got a boost from LaVine’s injury-marred campaign too.

White has made tremendous gains as a ball handler and finisher over the last two seasons.

That helped him contribute at a high level even when his three-ball wasn’t falling as it typically does for large swaths of the season.

He entered the contest 0-for-5 from deep over the last two games of the regular season. The Hawks had no answers for him in this contest, though, with White proving equally effective getting to the rim as he was shooting the ball.

“We reached a point where they put so much pressure on the rim and we had to respond offensively, and we did for a while there,” Hawks head coach Quin Snyder told reporters.

“I think the biggest thing was driving the ball they were on the rim a lot.”

The Bulls were 36-for-51 in the paint and 28-for-38 in the restricted area. Unlike the last meeting between these teams, the Bulls won the three-point battle and did so by efficiency rather than by volume. Both teams made 11 threes. But the Bulls’ paint proficiency bolstered the attack.

Zach LaVine’s Future Remains Uncertain

The Bulls have tried to trade LaVine over the last several transaction windows. His contract and injury history have combined with a high asking price from the Bulls to prevent that from happening.

He is still owed $138 million over the last three years of his five-year, $215.1 million contract.

And LaVine – who has maintained a positive presence around the team during his injury – missed the final 39 games of the season following foot surgery.

The Bulls were already expected to explore trading LaVine again this offseason, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson on March 9. Something could have to give to avoid creating an offensive logjam next season. That could have to be the Bulls’ asking price after years of failed attempts.