Future for Bulls guard Coby White remains cloudy into next season
The Bulls were all for trading the 2019 first-round pick if the right deal came along, but that never materialized this summer. So what does that make White moving forward? Maybe just the ultimate insurance policy.
The current Bulls regime knows exactly what they have in Coby White.
That’s why they gave the combo guard a lengthy to-do list to work on this summer.
The rest of the league also knows exactly what White brings to the court, evident by the underwhelming trade packages that were being offered for him leading into the June NBA Draft and free agency.
It now falls on the 22-year-old to start changing minds, and quickly.
“Just continue to work on my ballhandling, continue to make strides in the weight room, it will help me defensively,’’ White said, when asked at the end of the season what the front office wanted him to focus on this summer.
By all accounts he has done just that.
According to a source, White has had a great offseason of work, not only improving his body in the physicality department, but his footwork and ballhandling.
The problem is he’s not the only Bull looking to make strides from last season.
Ayo Dosunmu has been an Advocate Center gym rat since the Bucks sent the Bulls packing in the first round of the playoffs, while rookie Dalen Terry reportedly took no time off after the Las Vegas Summer League, getting right back to work in the gym with his new teammates.
The Bulls’ guard room is suddenly not only crowded but becoming a fire hazard.
Even if starting point guard Lonzo Ball is not ready for the start of training camp — which seems more likely each week — executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas purchased an insurance policy in veteran Goran Dragic earlier this month.
That leaves Zach LaVine the starting off guard, Ball or Dragic at the point, and then Alex Caruso, Dosunmu, Terry and, of course, White all battling for minutes.
The good news for White is it’s a backcourt that has proven to be very fragile, so minutes might come easier than expected.
Besides Ball, LaVine has had his share of missed games the last few seasons, while Caruso’s style of play isn’t sustainable to keep him out of the training room.
That backcourt game of musical chairs was on full display in the five playoff games against Milwaukee.
White was called upon for key minutes in Game 1, especially with Ball sidelined and Dosunmu actually looking like a second-round rookie for one of the rare times.
The North Carolina product responded with 23 minutes and 12 points, finishing that close loss with a plus-four in the plus/minus department.
In the lone Bulls win in Game 2, however, it was just 10 minutes for White, as coach Billy Donovan stayed with his starters for a heavy workload.
White did get a lot of run in Game 5, but that was courtesy of both Caruso and LaVine being sidelined.
Still, White did get 32 minutes of work, scoring 17 points in what was a dominant win for Milwaukee.
So where does that leave White now?
Basically on the outside looking in. He has been on the trade block for the last year, but Karnisovas & Co. did not like the offers and weren’t just looking to give him away. But they also have no intention of extending him this fall when White’s rookie deal starts winding down.
Instead, the Bulls seem poised to keep White for depth purposes, revisit his trade value at the deadline if the backcourt is healthy, and if he is a Bull come next summer, simply let the market set a price on him and decide if the restricted free agent would be worth matching.
Until then, however, White seems to be a willing worker. He better be, because there’s plenty to do.