Coby White’s Shoulder Surgery A Major Setback As Chicago Bulls Head Into Crucial Offseason
Chicago Bulls guard Coby White was hoping to build on a stellar end to the 2020-21 season after undergoing serious point guard growing pains throughout the campaign. Instead, White just suffered a major setback, injuring his left shoulder while participating in basketball activities away from the team and undergoing surgery to repair the issue.
White will be reevaluated in four months, and NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reports the injury is a torn labrum that could keep the youngster out for up to six months. Four months would keep him out until right before the regular season, so sixth months would cost him a decent chunk of the start of 2021-22.
The Bulls already knew they needed an upgrade at point guard even before this injury. The primary duo of White and Tomas Satoransky ($5 million of his $10 million for next season is guaranteed) didn’t cut it the last two seasons. This news makes acquiring help at the position an even bigger priority this offseason. All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic need more talent around them if Chicago is going to jump up into the playoff picture, so look for Arturas Karnisovas to be aggressive as he continues to turn over the roster, though he needs to be careful about being too desperate.
The Bulls looked into acquiring Lonzo Ball before the trade deadline, and they’ll surely explore that option again. Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley are the biggest fish who could be hitting the market at the point guard position, but they’re long-shot targets. Dennis Schroder, Spencer Dinwiddie, Devonte’ Graham, Goran Dragic and Jalen Brunson are just some of the other potential options in free agency. Could there be a Derrick Rose reunion? Getting even deeper into the pool gets you to players like T.J. McConnell and Ish Smith.
Malcolm Brogdon would be an intriguing trade target if the Indiana Pacers look to shake things up after firing head coach Nate Bjorkgren. Ricky Rubio is another veteran trade option. Kemba Walker trade rumors are already swirling around the Boston Celtics, but his big contract and injury history are worrisome.
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There was also a recent report from Mozzart Sport suggesting EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic is a possible trade target. Given Karnisovas’ European background, this would be no surprise. The Bulls should be using every avenue possible to improve their roster, and Karnisovas having those connections overseas should be an asset as he builds the team.
There’s also the draft, but the Bulls have to wait until the lottery in a couple of weeks to find out if they’re going to keep their first-round pick by jumping into the top four. Keeping that pick could give them the opportunity to draft Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs depending on where it lands. Jalen Green is another guard option at the top of the draft, though he’s a shooting guard. Chicago could also use the pick as trade bait.
As for White, he could be a trade chip as well, but this injury doesn’t help his value on the market. It shouldn’t hurt it too much, though, given he’s young and it’s an injury to his non-shooting shoulder. The likelier scenario is the 21-year-old staying in Chicago and hopefully playing a key role once he’s healthy.
Assuming he sticks around, what exactly that role will be when White returns to the lineup will be fascinating to see as he enters Year 3 (he becomes extension eligible after next season). The youngster started to look more comfortable playing off LaVine and Vucevic at the end of the season as he took advantage of his catch-and-shoot ability. White is much better as a catch-and-shoot gunner than as a pull-up 3-point shooter, and limiting his decision-making helped as well. What the Bulls do this offseason will surely impact how White is used when he comes back, and the fact that he’ll be spending this summer rehabbing instead of focusing on improving his game will also be a factor.
This is an unfortunate setback for White and the Bulls, but they can’t let it ruin their long-term plans. The front office knows there’s plenty of work to be done, and White will work hard himself to come back and hopefully (there’s that word again) prove he can be an impact player in the NBA after an up-and-down start to his career.