There was positive news on the Coby White return the past few days, as the Bulls guard has been running with resistance bands and continuing to get up shots.
Progress, but still not a promise of when White will be back in game form, as coach Billy Donovan ruled White out of his eighth-straight contest with that left thigh contusion.
No big deal?
Not true. Each game White misses is a deal, and one that the Bulls can’t make.
The Sun-Times reported in July that the Bulls were actively shopping White, but didn’t get the value they wanted and weren’t just going to give him away. After the deadline for an extension came and went last month, there were still phone calls being made, but again not worth jumping on in the eyes of the front office.
The hope was White would make some noise off the bench through the first half of the season, upping his value by the Feb. 9 trade deadline. Being a daily visitor to the training room, however, doesn’t exactly scream must-have target for the other 29 NBA teams.
So where are the Bulls with White?
That’s where it gets muddled.
Since the old regime of John Paxson and Gar Forman drafted White No. 7 overall out of North Carolina and tried turning him into a point guard, White has been more enigma than rising prospect.
On one hand he hasn’t impacted wins and losses. Evidence of that has been on full display the last two seasons, with the Bulls posting a 17-11 record (.607 winning percentage) when White doesn’t play.
On the other his outside shooting is very necessary for this roster.
The Bulls were beyond efficient from three-point range last season, finishing fourth in the league by hitting 36.9% from long range. The issue was the number of threes they put up, finishing dead last in attempts at 28.8 per game.
Through the first 14 games this season, the Bulls are still near the bottom in attempts, sitting 28th with 28.8 per game once again, but were 14th in three-point accuracy at 36%.
White was struggling with his three-pointer in the seven games he played so far this season, hitting just 29.4%, but shot a career-best 38.5% from three last year. Even more impressive, White was among the team lead in fourth-quarter three-point shooting in the 2021-22 campaign, going 44-for-91 (48.4%) in that final stanza.
His 44 fourth-quarter threes led the team, and might have come in handy the last few weeks, considering the Bulls were 0-6 in clutch time – defined by the NBA as games within a five-point margin with five minutes or less left to play.
A lot of numbers to dissect with White, but also exactly why the streaky shooter remained the Jekyll and Hyde of this roster.
So what exactly could the Bulls realistically do with White? Right now, not much.
Milwaukee is reportedly shopping Grayson Allen, who would be a perfect fit for the Bulls. He can shoot from long range, is a slightly better defender than White, and more importantly, brings a much-needed edge wherever he plays.
The issue is the Bucks are looking for a defensive-minded frontcourt player in return. White is neither of those.
What the Bulls need is White to get healthy first, show a consistent ability to hit from outside, and then if they are in the trade market when February comes around, he’s more likely to be a piece in a trade package.
Until then it’s a waiting game, and one that the Bulls hope involves less resistance bands.