Where Does Trade Interest in Coby White Stand With Draft Night Looming?

Whether it’s the constant talk of interest in Rudy Gobert or spotty reports about Zach LaVine’s free agency, it’s been hard to decide how much weight to put into certain Bulls rumors.

Arturas Karnisovas has been one of the most aggressive and unpredictable front office leaders since taking over the franchise in 2020. He’s demonstrated a commitment to quickly making the Bulls a more competitive unit, blowing up the pre-existing roster to the point where only two players from the GarPax regime wore a Bulls uniform this past season. While one of those players – Zach LaVine – is expected to re-sign with the organization this summer, the other could be on another team as soon as Thursday night.

Coby White’s future with the Bulls became that much more uncertain this season after another inconsistent campaign. Not only did he struggle to make the kind of impact fans wanted to see as a sparkplug scorer off the bench, but rookie standout Ayo Dosunmu showed tremendous promise. Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are also tied to the franchise for several more seasons, putting White’s future role in an odd place, especially as he heads into the final year of his rookie deal.

With that being the case, one of the most popular rumors about the Bulls in recent weeks has been that White could be on the move. Many believe a deal might go down as soon as draft night, where the front office could look to package White alongside the No. 18 pick (whether that would be for a move up or a veteran asset is unclear).

When we consider the Bulls are expected to have limited spending power this summer, there is no question this trade could be the best way to add an impact player to this win-now roster. However, whether White’s value is even high enough to help net the kind of return the Bulls want is up for debate.

The Bulls have been exploring trade options using this pick and are also said to be shopping former lottery pick Coby White, although the market for his services doesn’t appear to be the strongest, ”Woo wrote in a recent mock draft.

Talk about a buzzkill.

White is coming off a career-high 38.5 percent from behind the arc, which I have to imagine would garner at least some interest. But the fact he’ll soon be up for a payday and averaged an underwhelming 12.7 points (while playing below-average defense) likely has teams wary of giving up too much to acquire him. Contending teams, in particular, might not see themselves as the right team to take a chance on the 22-year-old, who shot a dismal 33.3 percent from the field in the playoffs in just 19.6 minutes per game.

Still, we’re talking about an extremely young talent who was widely considered a top-10 pick in a strong 2019 draft class. The potential for him to turn into a go-to sixth man and reliable knockdown shooter is there, and who is to say that potential isn’t enough for a team to make a last-second deal on draft night (especially if they have the security blanket of the No. 18 pick)?

While Woo reported a relatively weak market, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley still wrote that teams have picked up the phone to ask about White:

So while one NBA source told the Sun-Times that several calls were known to have been made about the availability of a draft-day trade for guard Coby White, the unknown as of Wednesday remained the response from the Bulls.

We just never know how rival teams think. Some could view White as a better option than what’s left on their board Thursday night, and others could have always seen White and No. 18 as a great deal but wanted to hold onto their leverage as long as possible. That’s the thing about the NBA Draft: We just never know how things are going to play out until they… well… play out.

At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily want to see White go, but the Bulls have limited resources when it comes to bolstering this roster. If moving his potential can net the team a more immediately impactful player, it’s likely a deal worth making.

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