Bulls guard Coby White cleared, will play against Lakers
White was on the shelf the entire offseason through fall camp after undergoing shoulder surgery, but he’s going to come off the bench with the second unit.
LOS ANGELES — The Bulls could use another 15 points off the bench, as well as a player who can space the floor with the second unit.
They will get it Monday against the Lakers, and executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas didn’t have to make a phone call or a trade.
According to coach Billy Donovan, team doctors have cleared guard Coby White to start playing in games again after he had offseason shoulder surgery that sidelined him through the summer and training camp.
‘‘Provided everything goes well with his stuff here [Sunday] — no setbacks, which we don’t anticipate there being any — he’ll be cleared to go,’’ Donovan said.
So what will that look like, exactly?
White undoubtedly will have a lot of rust to work through. He has been playing five-on-five for the last week, but the major concern is on the defensive end. Donovan explained that White has been working on his shot regularly throughout his rehab, but simulating playing defense is tough to do.
‘‘It’s not like he’s playing afraid or tentative on defense,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘It’s not even about that. He’s just got to get into the physicality of the game. He’s got to work on that kind of stuff. He’s not shying away from playing defense, he just hasn’t done it for six months.’’
As far as what White’s role will be, Donovan pointed out the obvious move would be to flip White with rookie Ayo Dosunmu. The problem is that Dosunmu has played really well with the second unit and brings a different set of skills than White does.
While White is a streaky shooter and really improving in catch-and-shoot, Dosunmu is an energy guy who plays defense and seems to give the second team a jolt.
‘‘I think [Dosunmu has] played too well and has played some good basketball for us,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘We’ve got to find a way to utilize both of those guys.
‘‘I haven’t talked to [the] medical [team] yet. I don’t know if there will be a minutes restriction on Coby. If there is, that kind of helps it a little bit in terms of when Coby gets to a place where he can play a normal allotment of minutes.
‘‘Clearly, going into his first game, there’ll be a lot of anticipation on his part, and we’ll have to see what he looks like. There’s probably going to be a lot of rust on him. Whatever happens to him [Monday], he’s always had the mentality to come back and work and try and figure it out to make it better.’’
Donovan said he has remained in contact with center Nikola Vucevic, who is home in Chicago dealing with a positive test for the coronavirus. And while Vucevic will miss at least the rest of the trip, Donovan was optimistic he will return sooner than later.
‘‘I talked to him [Saturday] a little bit,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘The symptoms haven’t gotten worse. Kind of feels like more he’s got a cold. He’s doing fine. [Unlike] some others who have been hit really hard by the virus, that hasn’t necessarily been the case for him right now. So that part is positive. He’s doing well.’’