There has been a bit of positive news about injured Bulls guard Coby White in the last few days. He has been running with resistance bands and continuing to put up shots.
But there’s still no timetable for when White will be back in game form. On Tuesday, coach Billy Donovan ruled White out of his eighth consecutive game Wednesday with a bruised left thigh.
No big deal, you say? Not true. Each game White misses makes it harder for the Bulls to trade him.
The Sun-Times reported in July that the Bulls were shopping White but weren’t getting the value they wanted and weren’t going to give him away. After the deadline for a contract extension came and went last month, the Bulls still were making and receiving phone calls about him.
Their hope was that White would make some noise off the bench in the first half of the season and raise his value by the trade deadline Feb. 9. Being a daily visitor to the training room, however, doesn’t exactly make White a must-have player for the other 29 NBA teams.
So where are the Bulls with White? That’s where it gets muddled.
Since the old front-office regime of John Paxson and Gar Forman drafted White seventh overall in 2019 and tried turning him into a point guard, he has been more of an enigma than a rising prospect.
On one hand, he hasn’t really affected their wins and losses. Evidence of that is in the Bulls’ 17-11 record in the last season-plus when White doesn’t play.
On the other hand, they need his outside shooting. The Bulls were fourth in three-point percentage last season at 36.9%. The issue was that they didn’t shoot enough threes, finishing last in attempts at 28.8 per game.
Through their first 14 games this season, the Bulls are 28th in three-point attempts with the same 28.8 per game, but they rank 14th in three-point accuracy at 36%.
White has struggled from three-point range in the seven games he has played this season, making only 29.4%, but he shot a career-best 38.5% from beyond the arc last season. Even more impressive, White shot 44-for-91 (48.4%) from three-point range in the fourth quarter last season.
Those 44 fourth-quarter three-pointers led the team and might have come in handy the last few weeks, considering the Bulls are 0-6 in ‘‘clutch’’ time, which the NBA defines as games within a five-point margin with five minutes or less left.
So what can the Bulls realistically do with White? Right now, not much.
The Bucks reportedly are shopping guard 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 brings a much-needed edge wherever he plays.
The issue is that the Bucks are looking for a defensive-minded frontcourt player in return. White is neither of those.
What the Bulls need is for White to get healthy and show a consistent ability to shoot from outside. Then, if they are in the market to make a deal when February comes around, he’s more likely to be a piece in a trade package.
Until then, it’s a waiting game.