With the trade deadline looming just one week ahead now, rumors all around the NBA are reaching a boiling point. For the Chicago Bulls, the future of Coby White remains a mystery, as the 22-year-old guard is set to hit restricted free agency this summer. For that reason, Coby has often been included in hypothetical trade scenarios and rumors for some time, but the Bulls have thus far been proven to be unwilling to move White.
That may change soon, however, as Matt Moore of The Action Network reports the Bulls have joined the Trail Blazers as a potential trade destination for Jae Crowder ahead of the deadline. Moore states, “The Bulls and Suns have had conversations about a deal involving Coby White for Jae Crowder in recent weeks”.
I can definitely understand why there would be mutual interest here. Crowder is the exact type of versatile forward who can hold down both forward positions and allow the Bulls to run out a variety of lineups to improve their overall flexibility. Crowder has built a reputation around the league as a stout defender with the flexibility to guard multiple positions and make an impact at the perimeter.
Although his three-point shot is extremely streaky, Crowder has shot a relatively dependable 36.9% from deep on 5.9 attempts per game since 2020. Even when his shot isn’t falling, he strikes fear into opposing defenses and stretches the floor with his presence alone.
Perhaps most important of all, Crowder is a veteran who has experienced several deep playoff runs. He would ideally bring leadership and a winning mentality to a Bulls team that is severely lacking in both departments. Crowder’s also on an extremely affordable $10 million expiring contract, meaning both sides could part ways a few months from now even if a stint in Chicago doesn’t pan out for both sides.
And yet, in spite of all this, I firmly believe trading for Crowder would be an unnecessary self-inflicted wound by the Chicago Bulls’ front office.
Trading Coby White for Jae Crowder would be a mistake for the Chicago Bulls.
With Cameron Payne as the primary point guard off the bench, it makes a lot of sense why Phoenix would be interested in acquiring another guard to alleviate the burden from Chris Paul’s shoulders and form a solid backcourt tandem next to Landry Shamet. Compared to Crowder who hasn’t played a minute all season, practically anyone would be an improvement at this point.
Although Coby’s statistical prowess won’t jump off the page at you, he’s shown flashes of greatness when given the opportunity and has gradually improved the weaknesses in his game each season. If you tune into the broadcast you’ll surely have heard Stacey King sing Coby’s praises, and there’s a reason for that, White’s ball handling and defensive skills are simply leagues ahead of where it was when he first entered the league.
As the second-longest tenured player on the roster, it sometimes feels like White has been here for a decade. However, this roster has experienced an incredible amount of turnover since Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley took over, so Coby has almost been given veteran status by default. The truth of the matter is that he’s still a developing prospect, has been willing to learn and improve, and still has plenty of room left to grow.
Compared to Crowder, I simply believe Coby holds more intrinsic value here. If the Chicago Bulls were on the brink of title contention, perhaps I’d feel different, but that’s not the case. Crowder may not even still be in the NBA three years from now. Throwing away yet another promising player — like Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Daniel Gafford before him — for nothing more than a rental just doesn’t sit right with me.
I’ve also found these rumors strange from the start, as Crowder’s primary issue with Phoenix was his demotion to the bench. With DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams firmly latched onto the starting forward positions in Chicago, I see no reason why Crowder would be any more pleased to play for the Bulls.
That’s why I have to agree with NBC Sports Chicago beat writer K.C. Johnson here, who seems skeptical about the traction this rumor may possess.
"“The Bulls value White… They’ve rejected offers for him in the past. He’s certainly available for the right move, but it’s clear at this point that the Bulls won’t give him away. For starters, they need his shooting. The team doesn’t have much of it. Secondly, White is a team player who has accepted whatever changing role has been thrown his way. And his defense and ball-handling both are noticeably improved this season.”"
When you factor in the financial obstacles that also make a one-for-one swap impossible, I just don’t think the Bulls pull the trigger for Crowder. And in all honesty, that’s probably for the best.