Now that their season is over, the Chicago Bulls can finally put this all past them and move forward with planning for the 2023 NBA offseason. Among the many difficult decisions they’ll be forced to make, perhaps the most interesting question mark surrounding this team is just what they intend to do with impending free agent Coby White.
Coming off the best season of his career, the talented North Carolina product is no doubt looking to move up in the rotation for whichever team he plays for next. As the Bulls look to clear out their backcourt logjam and commit to one player to be Lonzo Ball’s replacement at point guard moving forward, they may just find the answer to the search internally, rather than on the open market.
Considering the season has just ended, I doubt Coby has put too much stock into his free agent status just yet. After all, he is a restricted free agent and the Bulls will have the ability to match any offer he signs. Even if Coby wanted out of Chicago, it isn’t exactly his decision to make at this point.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem he’s eager to leave just yet, as his end-of-season presser helped shed some light on his future. Still, he’ll move forward as a professional looking to secure the first big payday of his career.
Why the Chicago Bulls might be hesitant to re-sign Coby White to be the starting point guard.
There’s something to be said about the fact the Bulls have already attempted to make the backcourt duo of Coby and Zach LaVine work in the past, to no avail. White exited the draft as a very ball-dominant player and often failed to produce without the ball in his hands alongside LaVine.
Whether or not he’s improved enough to fit nicely alongside LaVine is worth bringing into question, especially since the Bulls will have no financial flexibility left over to find a competent replacement at the point if they give Coby a large long-term contract. This will effectively force the Bulls into another Patrick Beverley situation, desperately hunting the buyout market for another temporary starter.
With nine players on the Bulls currently not locked into a contract with the team next season, inking Coby to big money will also massively prohibit their ability to bring back several key contributors from this year’s roster. If they believe in Coby, that’s great, but there won’t be any excuses for him this time if he fails to meet expectations.
Why re-signing Coby White to be the starting point guard is worth the risk for the Chicago Bulls.
Although we haven’t seen much of White in a starter’s role since this team committed to winning now, Coby still reminded everyone what’s capable of in Chicago’s penultimate regular season game against the Dallas Mavericks.
With LaVine and DeRozan resting, White took the game over and posted 24 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds on 10-for-17 shooting from the field. He was clearly the best player on the court that night and could perhaps recapture that success next season if given a more consistent role in the starting lineup.
It should be noted that this season marks the first time in White’s career that he posted a positive net rating. In fact, his 4.0 net rating was the second-best of all Bulls players that logged 1000+ minutes this season, behind only Alex Caruso. The Bulls were 4.3 points better per 100 possessions when Coby was on the floor as opposed to when he was on the bench.
All of this indicates to me that White has developed into a winning player, and the Bulls would foolish to let him walk for nothing this summer.
Should the Bulls re-sign Coby White and bump him into the starting five?
All too often, the Bulls have failed to allot the necessary amount of time for their prospects to develop properly and become productive players. We’ve seen Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. go on to become very productive starters for their new teams. Spencer Dinwiddie and Max Strus were cut loose as projects, and now the latter ironically helped end Chicago’s season with an excellent performance in the play-in tournament.
Why then, would the Bulls give up on Coby right when he’s showing signs of rapid improvement? Fortunately, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas seems to be on the same page with me in that regard.
He may or may not end up becoming the player the Chicago Bulls need as a long-term starter, no one can know that for sure. But what we do know, however, is that he’s played well enough to at least warrant an opportunity to improve himself.