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Bulls guard Coby White still on the mend

The Bulls’ preseason wraps up Friday against the Grizzlies, and the expectation is that Patrick Williams and Tony Bradley will make their debuts. As far as White, however, his hopes of a quick return are fading.

Coby White’s comeback from offseason surgery isn’t going as the Bulls planned.
Coby White’s comeback from offseason surgery isn’t going as the Bulls planned.
Matt Marton/AP

There are options.

Dissect the Bulls’ backcourt any way you want, and there’s no arguing the strength of it might be its versatility and depth.

Both will be tested for the next few weeks — and maybe longer.

When Coby White had offseason surgery on his left shoulder, the hope was that he would be re-evaluated in November, then would be cleared. When he spoke at the start of training camp, however, there was some optimism that maybe that timetable would shrink. After all, White said that the last hurdle was building strength in the shoulder area and that everything else felt great.

But now that the Bulls are set to play their preseason finale Friday against the Grizzlies, it’s obvious everything wasn’t so great. According to coach Billy Donovan, it sounds as though White is back on the original timetable — if not longer.

‘‘I would say we’d probably have a better feel in maybe another month,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Besides him being cleared to shoot and to dribble and to pass, he’s really, really got to work on his range of motion and his strength in his range of motion. So he’s not even in a position to do any contact at all. There’s no contact for him in the foreseeable future.’’

Not that any of this was unexpected. It almost felt as though the Bulls built their roster knowing that White would be delayed.

They not only added Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to the backcourt with Zach LaVine, but they drafted combo guard Ayo Dosunmu out of Illinois. Then factor in that Troy Brown Jr. is versatile enough to play some shooting guard, along with Javonte Green, and White has time to make sure he is fully healed.

‘‘It’s not necessarily that he’s going to be a month [out from] being cleared to play,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘It would probably be a month before they actually make some decisions on, ‘Hey, listen, can this guy actually go out there and endure and play against contact?’ Whatever it is, I still think he’s a ways away from contact.’’

When the Bulls get White back, they not only will get his 15.1 points per game but also a player who shot 35.9% from three-point range last season. What his role will be, however, will have to be determined.

The timetables are more clear for the other injured players the Bulls have been dealing with. Forward Patrick Williams (left ankle) went through a second consecutive practice Thursday with no setbacks, and backup center Tony Bradley (back) also is poised to make his preseason debut Friday.

The Bulls don’t have a lot of size in the middle beyond Nikola Vucevic, and they have limited rim protection. That’s what Bradley was brought in to do.

‘‘Doing my job is at least contesting at the rim,’’ Bradley said when he was asked what he hopes to bring off the bench. ‘‘I may not block every shot, but I’ll at least try to alter it and make it a little bit difficult to lay the ball in.’’

As far as how much Williams and Bradley will play Friday, Donovan didn’t say. His focus is to ‘‘get better.’’

‘‘We need to improve,’’ Donovan said, despite the Bulls’ 3-0 preseason record. ‘‘I think a lot of the things we did the first two preseason games, we did not do [Sunday against the Cavaliers]. I think playing Cleveland a second time, I’m hopeful it was a good learning experience for our team because they were the aggressor in the game.’’