Coby White

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers Workouts, White, Pistons Draft

Zach LaVine‘s decision to have knee surgery in the offseason shows his commitment to the game and the Bulls, according to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. LaVine’s decision to play through his knee injury this season with Chicago heading to the playoffs proved how much he wanted to experience the postseason for himself and give his teammates a chance to do the same. He’ll still get paid this summer in unrestricted free agency, likely a maximum deal, Johnson adds.

We have more on the Central Division:

Deveney’s Latest: A. Davis, Schröder, Bulls, Knicks

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said last week that “numerous” league executives suggested to him that Lakers star Anthony Davis doesn’t have significant trade value due to his injury history. However, execs who spoke to Sean Deveney of scoffed at that idea.

One general manager told Deveney that there would be “29 teams ready with offers” if the Lakers made Davis available. An Eastern Conference executive said the idea of Davis not having much value is “crazy.”

“Look, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder. But he is an elite talent and he is 29 years old,” the East exec told Deveney. “Everybody wants him, everybody thinks that if they get their hands on him, they can keep him healthy, etc., etc.

“Now, can you get the kind of offer the Lakers gave up when they traded for him (in 2019)? No, of course not. But a team like Chicago, where he is from, they would bend over backwards to get him. Dallas, putting him with Luka (Doncic)? Of course, they would. Phoenix, Miami, any team that really wants to take that next step. The injury is a risk, but the payoff you get if you can keep him on the floor is worth it.”

While there seems to be no real consensus on Davis’ value, it may be a moot point this offseason, since there’s no indication the Lakers would consider moving him.

Here’s more from Deveney:

  • It’s possible the Rockets will re-sign free agent point guard Dennis Schröder and then look to trade him during the 2022/23 season, like Boston did this past year, a source tells Deveney. Although Deveney suggests Houston could use part of its mid-level exception to retain Schröder, the Non-Bird exception would allow an offer up to about $7MM, which could be enough. It’s also worth pointing out that signing a one-year deal with the Rockets would give Schröder the ability to veto a trade next season.
  • The Bulls are one team to watch as a potential free agent suitor for Schröder, but probably only if they trade Coby White, according to Deveney, who notes that Schröder had his best year playing for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City in 2019/20.
  • Executives around the NBA believe the Knicks – who added Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker last summer – are more likely to pursue “young-ish” players with some upside this offseason rather than going after veterans again. Deveney mentions Tyus Jones, Mohamed Bamba, Chris Boucher, and Schröder as possible targets, though he acknowledges that some of those players aren’t particularly young.

Bulls Notes: DeRozan, LaVine, Continuity, Williams, White

Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan says he has no doubt that All-Star teammate Zach LaVine deserves a max contract this summer, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. As an unrestricted free agent with seven years of experience, LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal from Chicago worth approximately $212MM.

Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything,” DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls’ season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. “He’s one of those players in this league that you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he’s able to do. He deserves everything that’s coming to him for sure.”

DeRozan added that LaVine is extremely competitive in everything he does, on and off the court.

(He’s) just the ultimate competitor,” DeRozan said of LaVine. “That’s the best way I can sum it up. No matter what it is. I remember, we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him and he wouldn’t leave me alone until he beat me. And that’s just him on the court as well.”

Here’s more from Chicago:

  • Center Nikola Vucevic said the front office and coaches stressed continuity in his season-ending exit interview following the team’s playoff ouster. “They want to have continuity, that’s for sure,” Vucevic said, per Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “As far as moves they can make, I don’t really know that. That’s their job.”
  • DeRozan also believes the team’s core will return next season, but that doesn’t mean management won’t look to improve the roster if the opportunity presents itself (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago). “Just like we’re competitors, they are as well — for the right reasons,” DeRozan said.
  • Forward Patrick Williams says he’s looking to improve his consistency next season and has studied DeRozan’s habits to learn how to prepare as a pro. For his part, DeRozan says he plans to invite Williams and other teammates to work out with him in L.A. this summer (all Twitter links courtesy of Johnson and Schaefer from NBC Sports Chicago).
  • Coby White, who’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, said management told him to keep working on his ball-handling and to build up his strength in order to become a better defender, as Schaefer relays (via Twitter).

Bulls Notes: Caruso, Ball, Struggles, Williams, White

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said Alex Caruso is dealing with back spasms, which is why the guard asked to come out in the third quarter of Saturday’s 127-109 loss to Miami (Twitter link from Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago). Donovan said “it’s a problem” right now, but it’s not expected to sideline Caruso long-term.

Caruso might be rested during the last four games of the regular season depending on how he’s feeling, Donovan said. Caruso has been working hard to stay on the court by going through treatment, but the back spasms are hampering him at the moment.

Donovan also said the team is trying to slowly work Lonzo Ball back up to sprinting and cutting, but he’s not full speed yet. Donovan expects to know more on Ball’s progress by Tuesday or Wednesday, as Schaefer relays (via Twitter).

Ball hasn’t played since January 14 after suffering a bone bruise and torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery. He was originally projected to miss six-to-eight weeks, but he’s now nine-plus weeks removed from surgery. He’s still dealing with the bone bruise and had some discomfort a couple weeks ago.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • The Bulls’ struggles against top-tier teams continued on Saturday when they lost to Miami, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago is a combined 0-17 against the Heat, Bucks, Sixers, Suns, Grizzlies and Warriors. The Bulls are currently 45-33, the No. 6 seed in the East. They trail the Raptors, winners of five straight, by a half-game for the No. 5 seed.
  • Second-year forward Patrick Williams recently had his minutes restriction lifted, but Donovan said he’s not going to be handed minutes just because he’s healthy, Cowley writes in a separate story. “When [people] are sitting here, ‘Well, play him 30 minutes,’ sometimes he’s not ready for that,” Donovan said. “I get a chance to be around him every single day and talk to him, and there’s things he’s trying to figure out along the way, too. You want to put him in a position where he can be successful. I have to keep on trusting him. . . . Like, I had to get on him at halftime [Thursday] about, ‘You have to do more.’ It’s got to get to a point where for him it’s more instinctive, where he’s doing it a little more on his own.” Williams missed most of the season after undergoing left wrist surgery.
  • With Caruso, Ball and Zach LaVine (sore knee) all dealing with injuries, the Bulls need more production from Coby White, according to Cowley. In 39 games (28.2 MPG) leading up to the All-Star break, White was averaging 14.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 2.8 APG on .453/.401/.840 shooting, but he’s been in a bad slump ever since — his averages have dipped to 9.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 3.1 APG on .383/.314/1.000 shooting in 19 games (25.3 MPG) post-break. He went 0-of-9 on Saturday, including 0-of-7 from deep.

Trade Rumors: Barnes, Lakers, P. Washington, Bulls

As Thursday’s trade deadline nears, the Kings have been sending signals that they plan to hang onto forward Harrison Barnes, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Barnes has been a frequent subject of recent trade rumors, with one report earlier today stating that the Kings were still very much open to discussing him. A follow-up report said Sacramento only wanted win-now pieces in any deal involving the veteran forward, since the team still has playoff aspirations.

It seems safe to assume that most teams with interest in Barnes are other contenders or playoff hopefuls — those clubs would likely be more inclined to give up draft picks and young prospects than players who can contribute right away, so it makes sense that the Kings are having a tough time finding a deal they like.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Lakers have been “very reluctant” to give up a future first-round pick in any deadline trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today (video link). According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, prior to Tuesday, it seemed the front office’s preference was to wait until the offseason to do anything major, since the team’s 2029 first-round pick will become eligible to be traded at that time — L.A. could theoretically package its ’27 and ’29 first-rounders in the summer. Tuesday’s loss reportedly helped create a greater sense of urgency in the Lakers’ locker room to make a deadline move, so it will be interesting to see how the front office responds.
  • The Hornets aren’t shopping forward P.J. Washington, but they’ve been willing to listen to calls about him, according to Jordan Schultz, who reports (via Twitter) that the Heat, Raptors, and Rockets are among the teams with interest in Washington.
  • Bulls guard Coby White has been mentioned off and on this season as a possible trade candidate, but he doesn’t sound too concerned about what will happen at the deadline, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I think I’ll be here past the deadline,” White said. “I haven’t really been worried about it.”
  • According to Johnson, there’s not much buzz right now about the Bulls making a major splash at the deadline. League sources tell Johnson that Chicago seems more interested in a frontcourt addition than acquiring a player like Dennis Schröder. Two of Johnson’s sources said the team’s reported interest in Schröder has been overstated.

Injury Notes: LaVine, White, Harden, Garland, Hayward, More

Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine has been suffering through back spasms recently, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic relays. LaVine was noticeably wincing during Chicago’s 127-120 overtime defeat to Toronto on Thursday. Center Nikola Vučević says the team appreciates LaVine’s commitment to winning despite not being fully healthy.

It tells us a lot about Zach playing through back spasms,” Vučević said. “It’s not easy. It limits you a lot. You just don’t have that freedom of movement, especially in the back. It’s a big, important part of your body, especially when you play basketball. I’m sure it was bothering him a lot, especially on the offensive end trying to score and be aggressive.

But it speaks a lot about his commitment to winning and to this team trying to still be out there. Even him not being 100 percent helps us a lot, so we appreciate him being out there.”

Coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), that the Bulls are hopeful LaVine will return Sunday after sitting out Friday on the second game of a back-to-back. However, Donovan also said that LaVine is still battling the knee soreness that sidelined him for a handful of games last month.

Here are some more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • LaVine wasn’t the only Bulls player absent from Friday’s 122-115 win at Indiana, as Coby White also missed the game due to a groin strain, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Donovan said White has had lingering discomfort in the groin, but it was aggravated against Toronto.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said James Harden was held out of Brooklyn’s 125-102 blowout loss at Utah on Friday for precautionary reasons, per Nick Friedell of ESPN (via Twitter). The team is giving Harden a couple extra days rest to ensure his hamstring is feeling better. Nash doesn’t think Harden will need an MRI and is hopeful he’ll return to action Sunday at Denver. Rudy Gay exited the game early for the Jazz with right knee soreness and didn’t return to the court, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, recently named an All-Star for the first time, missed his third consecutive game Friday at Charlotte with lower back soreness, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Gordon Hayward returned to action for the Hornets in the team’s 102-101 loss after missing the past two weeks due to COVID-19, Boone notes.
  • Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony will likely be out Saturday vs. New York, providing extra rest before the team re-evaluates his strained right hamstring next week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. LeBron James is also doubtful for the contest against the Knicks with knee swelling, per Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link).
  • Heat center Omer Yurtseven has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available for Saturday’s game at Charlotte, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports (via Twitter).
  • Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 draft, missed his second straight game for the Pistons Friday with a hip pointer, Keith Langlois of tweets. Coach Dwane Casey said the injury isn’t considered serious, but the team is being cautious with its rising star. The Pistons fell to the Celtics, 102-93.
  • Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon missed his second consecutive game Friday with hamstring tightness, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). The Nuggets lost to the Pelicans without Gordon, 113-105.

Central Notes: DiVincenzo, McConnell, Brogdon, White, Sexton

Bucks swingman Donte DiVincenzo has heard his name in trade rumors but he’s not fretting over it, as he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic. DiVincenzo hopes to remain in Milwaukee this season.

“What can you focus on? What can you control? I can control my attitude and my effort every day,” DiVincenzo said. “And those are two things that no matter what, the business side is going to handle itself, I can control the attitude and effort. And if a trade happens? I went through a trade! I experienced that. I’m cool. I want to be here.”

DiVincenzo wasn’t signed to a rookie scale extension during the offseason. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.

“I’m not one to focus on what’s four or five months ahead of me,” he said. “If you sit down and focus on coming in every day and focus on what do I have to do today and get better today? Everything else takes care of itself.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • T.J. McConnell had the pin taken out of surgically repaired right wrist but the Pacers guard is “weeks, not days” away from returning, coach Rick Carlisle told James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). When McConnell underwent hand surgery in early December, the prognosis was that he could be out the rest of the season. There’s still no timetable for Malcolm Brogdon‘s return, Boyd adds in a separate tweet. Brogdon was shut down 10 days ago due to right Achilles soreness.
  • Coby White has been showing versatility as the Bulls try to figure out what role he’s best suited for with the current roster, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. White isn’t upset about having to switch gears on the fly. “Whatever the team needs me to do,” he said. “My role changes all the time. I’ve just got to adapt and continue to adjust. It’s nothing new for me. I’ve been doing it for awhile. Whatever the team needs I’m down to do whatever.”
  • The Cavaliers are not expecting Collin Sexton to return from meniscus surgery this season even though the young guard is optimistic about his recovery, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said on the Wine and Gold Podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). “Everybody that I’ve talked to in the organization, there is nobody that even in their mind once considered the possibility of Collin Sexton returning for the postseason,” Fedor said. Sexton indicated recently he hadn’t ruled out a potential return during the playoffs.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, White, Kalamian, Holiday, Sexton

Rookie Ayo Dosunmu and third-year guard Coby White have expanded roles in the absence of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine and they’ve performed well, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Ball is out six-to-eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery and LaVine didn’t join on the Bulls on their three-game road trip due to a less serious knee injury.

Dosunmu and White have started the last three games, with Dosunmu averaging 18.0 PPG, 8.0 APG and 5.7 RPG and White posting 17.0 PPG, 4.3 APG and 4.3 RPG.

DeMar DeRozan has been impressed with Dosunmu’s maturity. “He accepts his mistakes,” DeRozan said. “He holds himself accountable. And that’s big for a young guy to be able to do that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons assistant coach Rex Kalamian has agreed to become the head coach of the Armenian national team, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnaworski tweets. Both of Kalamian’s parents are Armenian-Americans. Kalamian, who recently served as acting coach when Dwane Casey missed some games for personal reasons, will continue in his duties in Detroit.
  • Jrue Holiday returned to action on Wednesday after missing six games due to left ankle soreness. Though he only scored nine points in 22 minutes, he gave the Bucks a boost in numerous areas, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. “Wish I had a little more (time on the floor), but I think just trying to get my timing back, get my legs back, get my feel for the game back,” Holiday said. “I feel like I haven’t played in a long time, so just trying to get back right.”
  • Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, who underwent season-ending knee surgery two months ago, will be a restricted free agent after the season. Bryan Fonseca of Basketball News explores the pros and cons of Cleveland trading Sexton before next month’s deadline. Fonseca ultimately concludes the Cavs should retain Sexton, providing another shot-creator and catch-and-shoot option on a team with playoff aspirations beyond this season.

Scotto’s Latest: Bulls, Hawks, Finney-Smith, Thunder, Rockets

The Bulls figure to explore potential roster upgrades at the trade deadline, but they’re resistant to the idea of moving Patrick Williams, Michael Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast.

If the Bulls want to make a major move at the deadline, it may have to involve Williams, 2020’s No. 4 overall pick, since the club has already traded away multiple future first-rounders. Williams’ ability to help the team this year may also be limited, since a wrist injury is expected to sideline him for most or all of the regular season.

Still, based on Scotto’s reporting, it sounds as if Chicago will likely hang onto Williams. One Bulls player who is available in the right deal is 2019 lottery pick Coby White, rival executives tell Scotto.

Here’s more from the HoopsHype Podcast:

  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari could be had for a first-round pick or as part of a larger package, rival executives tell Scotto. I’m very skeptical any team will be willing to give up a first-rounder for Gallinari unless they can dump an unwanted long-term contract on Atlanta. Scotto adds that execs believe Hawks forward Cam Reddish is more likely than not to be on the move at the deadline.
  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams are among the role players on modest contracts who are drawing trade interest from playoff teams, says Scotto. Oklahoma City is obviously more likely than Dallas to be a seller, but rival executives believe there may be an opportunity to poach Finney-Smith since he and Jalen Brunson are free agents in 2022 and re-signing both would likely make the Mavs a taxpayer.
  • Playoff-caliber teams are also monitoring Rockets veterans Eric Gordon and Daniel Theis, according to Scotto. They’ve been mentioned multiple times this season as potential trade candidates, since they probably don’t fit the timeline of a rebuilding Houston squad.
  • League sources tell Scotto that Thunder rookie Aaron Wiggins is a good candidate to have his two-way contract turned into a standard deal at some point this season.

Central Notes: Stephenson, White, Sykes, Paige

The Pacers have an open 15-man roster spot. Lance Stephenson made a strong case to fill it with his 30-point game on Wednesday, and Domantas Sabonis is hopeful that will happen, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files writes. “He’s a legend here, everybody loves him,” Sabonis said. “We knew the fans were going to go crazy when he came back. We love him, everyone else loves him here so it’s really fun to have him back.” Stephenson’s current 10-day hardship contract runs through Monday.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • There has been talk that Coby White might be traded for a power forward. However, the young Bulls guard is making a case to be part of the team’s long-term future, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. White has reached the 20-point mark three times in the last four games and has also made plays for his teammates. “I’m hoping he’s gaining some confidence in terms of his value for what he can do for our team,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It’s an important role for us.” The Bulls have already exercised their fourth-year option on White, who is extension-eligible after the season.
  • Keifer Sykes had his salary guaranteed for the remainder of the season and his coach said it was well deserved, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. “He earned it,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s earned it really starting in the summer just with his approach, his work ethic, his level of improvement, which has been gradual and consistent. And these (five games) that he’s played, he’s played tremendously.” Sykes is averaging 10.4 PPG and 3.6 APG in his first five games (26.8 MPG).
  • The Pistons terminated the 10-day contract of Jaysean Paige a couple days before it expired, Keith Smith tweets. The Pistons used the hardship exception to sign Paige but their players have returned from protocols. Early terminated 10-day deals still pay the player the full 10-day amount, as Smith notes.