The Chicago Bulls have several options at their disposal after Lonzo Ball’s second surgery in the past eight months. This procedure, scheduled for September 28, is expected to take him out for four to six weeks.
He will be re-evaluated at that point, meaning a return to the word for Ball could be closer to the February trading deadline than Christmas.
In the meantime, who the Bulls put in Ball’s place matters because they would have been lost without him.
Among the many possible solutions, the Bulls have veterans Alex Caruso and Goran Dragic as well as the younger Ayo Dosunmu. They’ve all seen enough arguments to be the first lead guard in Ball’s absence. The only realistic option that doesn’t seem to be considered is Coby White and that could be a mistake.
“Defensive concerns will prevent White from seriously considering replacing Ball as starter,” Darnell Mayberry wrote for The Athletic. “Last season’s acquisitions of Ball, Caruso and Dosumnu, coupled with last season’s shift to Dosunmu as emergency starter and the signing of Dragić this summer, also raises the question of how much confidence White’s management and coaching staff have to make it happen. lead the team. as a main supporter.”
To add to Mayberry’s point about the Bulls’ confidence in White, they also added Dalen Terry with the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
But they’re not necessarily lower on White in general.
“You can say, ‘Oh, they didn’t move it, they didn’t move it,’ and I wrote that,” KC Johnson said on the Bulls Talk Podcast. But…I think if they do the right thing offered, they probably would have moved it, they just didn’t feel like they were getting the right offer.”
Still, Mayberry’s stance on White’s defensive shortcomings is justified after he took the team’s third-worst defensive efficiency score last season, according to Cleaning the Glass.
As for his handling of the ball, White said he wants to get stronger this off-season.
In White’s defense, he made up for a serious drop in assists with a career low in sales last season, while setting career highs off the arc by shooting 38.5% from the depths. And in a team that is still light on three-point shooting, he could still provide a nice mix of that and play if his connection to Bulls center Nikola Vucevic is still strong.
“White has always shown good rhythm and timing with Vučević, allowing the big man to make several open shots from ball screens. It could be a link [Billy] Donovan dusts off to spark Vučević, though Goran Dragić seems more likely. But because of the sharp shooting of white, he can also pose a threat from the ball. When LaVine or DeRozan – or dare we say Patrick Williams? – initiates the attack, white can offer the correct floor distance.
Mayberry notes that the Bull’s 11-6 record in White’s starts and that the fourth-year guard shot 40% on more than six triples per game during his last 52 appearances last season.
He also mentions that White’s time as lead guard isn’t as disastrous as critics say.
White was on the floor as point guard for two of the Bulls’ three non-Lonzo Ball lineups that showed a positive difference in efficiency. One of those formations was defensively in the 96th percentile.
White is in a strange position where his current team seems to be in dire need of his skills. But for some reason, the partnership doesn’t seem destined to last with reports that the Bulls will investigate its trade value by the deadline. That seems more plausible when Ball and his 42% three-point marksmanship are seriously back in the fold.
Until then, since white plays more than just a few minutes in this team, he will offer value.
Since there is no expectation of another deal being struck between White and the Bulls, the only question is what it will take for the Bulls to trade him.
“It probably damaged his reputation for not being a guard by putting him in that spot,” a rival director told Heavy’s Sean Deveney. “You have to get him on the right role, a goalscorer from the bench who can pass a little bit. When that happens, he gets his reputation back.”
Their asking price was a young rotation player and a draft pick. If they’re locked into that price, they can wait until next summer – and limited free agency – for the situation to be resolved.