The Chicago Bulls’ Reported Interest in Shopping Coby White Is a Sign They’re All in on Contending

Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls pulverized the Detroit Pistons 133-87. The win extended Chicago’s impressive record to 27-11, the best mark in the Eastern Conference. With a playoff spot all but guaranteed, the Bulls now face two options. They can either maintain the status quo and bank on their current roster earning a spot in the NBA Finals. Or they can add a major piece and go all in, with third-year guard Coby White serving as the sacrificial lamb.

Coby White is rumored to be available in a trade

With the Bulls turning over leadership in the last couple of years, White is one of the few holdovers of the previous John Paxson-Gar Forman regime. The 6-foot-5 guard was selected seventh overall in 2019, with the hopes of being the future point guard of a core consisting of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. Now in his third season, White and LaVine are the only two players left from Chicago’s 2019-20 team.

However, it’s very possible the 21-year-old’s days in Chicago are soon coming to an end.

According to the HoopsHype Podcast, co-host Michael Scotto reported the Bulls are open to upgrading their roster. They don’t want to part with Patrick Williams, the team’s 2020 first-round pick currently out with a wrist injury. However, White is available “for the right upgrade, according to rival executives.”

White started 54 games for head coach Billy Donovan’s squad in 2020, averaging a career-high 15.1 points in 31.2 minutes. This season, the former UNC Tar Heel has taken more of a bench role, averaging 11.5 points in 24.8 minutes. However, his shooting percentages have seen big increases, with his year-to-year field-goal percentage going from 41.6% to 45.3% and his 3-point rate moving from 35.9% to 37.9%.

White is the most logical trade piece the Chicago Bulls have

Although he wasn’t drafted during the leadership tenure of Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls are right to have kept White. Having that quality depth is important during a season in which a positive case can disrupt your plans at any moment.

But with the Bulls reportedly open to shopping the 21-year-old, it’s clear they also view him as their biggest trade chip.

By this point, the shock of Chicago’s season has worn off. Now, it’s clear the Bulls are going to be firmly in the mix for a title. But is their roster good enough as constructed to overthrow the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in a seven-game series? Or eliminate the superstar-filled Brooklyn Nets? Those are the questions Karnisovas and the front office should be asking. If the answer is no, changes must be explored.

It’s nothing against White as to why he is the most logical trade candidate. Chicago’s core four of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Nikola Vucevic are set in stone. Alex Caruso was signed to a multi-year deal, while rookie Ayo Dosunmu has out-performed expectations early on. Those players are likely more crucial to Chicago’s plans, both present and future, than White.

In addition, White is eligible for a rookie extension after this season. Given the players already in place, it seems unlikely White would receive a sizable extension by a front office that didn’t draft him.

A trade involving Coby White would confirm the Bulls are all in

At 27-11, there’s not much tinkering the Bulls have to do. There will be no seismic trades for stars like Ben Simmons or Damian Lillard, that much is all but certain. But even a trade of the promising Coby White for a proven veteran will be an indication Chicago is all in on chasing a ring.

As things stand, the top-seed Bulls have a pair of All-Stars in DeRozan and LaVine. They have another former All-Star in Vucevic, along with a fearsome defensive duo of Ball and Caruso. Beyond them, only White is averaging more than 6.5 points per game. So adding a proven veteran scorer, like the Orlando Magic’s Terrence Ross, could serve as a possibility.

A more intriguing, yet expensive option is Harrison Barnes. The Sacramento Kings veteran is averaging 16.1 points and would be a game-changing addition to the Bulls. A move for Barnes, who still has another $18 million left after this season, would definitely prove Chicago is ready to win now.

It would be tough to sell a 21-year-old who hasn’t conceivably hit his ceiling yet. But Bulls fans should take solace knowing if White is traded, it would only be for a player who elevates the Bulls closer toward a championship.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

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