Former Carolina star Coby White is not having a great summer.
Well, alright, I suppose that all depends on how he looks at things. There are plenty of way to look at the Chicago Bulls kicking off NBA Free Agency with a bang by signing both former New Orleans Pelican Lonzo Ball, as well as former Los Angeles Laker Alex Caruso. Even worse is this is all happening while White is recovering from a left shoulder injury that he suffered during basketball activities away from the team (to my knowledge it didn’t happen at the Dean Dome, but I’m unable to confirm either way). He isn’t expected to return to the Bulls any earlier than October, which basically means that he will miss an entire offseason that could’ve been spent improving his game, but more importantly, improving his skills at the point guard position.
This is where the free agency started to feel messy.
To be fair: the Bulls reportedly had been eyeing Lonzo Ball for quite some time now. They wanted to acquire him during the trade period, but were unable to work anything out at the time. Bulls GM Marc Eversley and Bulls VP of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas remained patient and waited until yesterday, and the very second that free agency opened up they announced that Ball was the newest Chicago Bull. Allegedly NBA has a no-tampering rule, but it is especially clear in this case that such a thing doesn’t really exist. I digress.
Later we would find out that the Bulls weren’t done, as they stole Alex Caruso away from the Los Angeles Lakers, which is a sore spot with some Lakers fans because the organization didn’t even try to match the offer. Ball and Caruso now make for a talented point guard duo that are strong defensively, although when it comes to Ball he still has a way to go before he reaches his full potential. These two additions as well as drafting former Illinois point guard Ayo Dosunmu pretty much confirm the team’s dedication to slide Coby White into a backup role for All-Star shooting guard, Zach LaVine. Or does it?
If I had to guess, the Bulls depth chart will probably look something like this:
PG: Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu
SG: Zach LaVine, Coby White
SF: Patrick Williams, Troy Brown Jr.
PF: ???? (There’s a whole situation with that right now)
Center: Nikola Vucevic, (????)
Here’s the thing with this depth chart: there is a lot of fluidity in these positions, meaning Ball, Caruso, Dosunmu, LaVine, and White all have the capabilities of playing in various positions. I’d say White and maybe Dosunmu might be more limited to just the guard spots, but LaVine, Ball, and Caruso have played anywhere between the one and the three spots before. I say this to suggest that when it comes to White specifically, there is a chance that we see him revisit the point guard spot again. However, it’s unclear at the moment what Bulls head coach Billy Donovan’s plan is, and what his vision is for what will finally be his own roster. It could be that Donovan has decided that White is best served as a combo guard, meaning he can come off of the bench, sometimes initiate the offense, but for the most part find his own shot without having to stress out about the point guard spot anymore. It’s also worth noting that LaVine was used in that same way last season — he played on the ball quite a bit, but ultimately his job was either to score or to link up with someone who could do it.
This tactic also falls in line with everything Lonzo Ball is here for. The Bulls know that Ball isn’t Chris Paul, but he is a connector of sorts when he is on the court. He has a level of court vision that Billy Donovan didn’t have last year in any of his players, so that alone will be an instant improvement. However, Ball is not going to put up 10+ assists 60 games in the season or anything like that. Ball needs a player like LaVine to excel, and vice versa, and I would venture to say that the same applies for White. I can’t possibly express how many times I screamed at the TV last season when people left him hanging in his spot on the floor and decided to jack up a terrible shot instead. Synergy is going to be the name of the game with this back court this season, and I think in saying that there’s room for everyone to get some burn.
With that said, what does the future look like for Coby White? As of writing this article, he is still a member of the Chicago Bulls. He’s too good to not get playing time, and he is especially too good of a scorer to not get some time at least behind LaVine. I’ve said it before, but White joined the Bulls at a really bad time, and unfortunately he got sucked into a vortex of pain, depression, and gaslighting in the form of growth plates (if you know, you know). Now that many changes are happening, it’s easy to see how he could be hung out to dry, but as long as Billy Donovan still has faith in him I think it will all turn out just fine. Unfortunately, however, the free agency period is far from over. Please, Bulls, don’t give our beloved Tar Heel anything else to worry about.