Bulls mailbag: Will Coby White start at PG? Trade DeMar DeRozan?

Bulls mailbag: Will White start at PG? Trade DeRozan? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

With the NBA playoffs rolling and the Chicago Bulls on the outside looking in, it’s time to open up the mailbag.

Our Lonzo-less team needs a starting point guard. Patrick Beverley is now probably optimized off the bench at this stage in his great career. DeMar DeRozan is now stunting Patrick Williams’ development. Williams is a small forward, not a power forward. We do not have optimal offensive flow and the ball needs to be fed to Nikola Vucevic more. (Re-sign him!) So, how do we craft a pathway to acquire Damian Lillard? A starting five of: Lillard, Zach LaVine, Williams, Derrick Jones Jr. and Vucevic looks awfully good to me.  --- Hugh O.D.

You had me until the Lillard trade.

Scroll to continue with content

The Trail Blazers will be looking to appease Lillard by upgrading the roster, not by trading him. Even if Portland reached that pathway, which, again, it should be emphasized, the Trail Blazers have not, the Bulls almost certainly don’t have the assets to acquire him. DeRozan and returning the first-round pick the Trail Blazers owe the Bulls would be a small start. I mean, look at the haul the Utah Jazz got for Donovan Mitchell. Lillard would command that, if not more.

As for your other points, it certainly sounded to me that Artūras Karnišovas, in his season-ending media session, agreed for the need for that starting point guard. His consistent citing of the Bulls’ 14-9 mark after adding Beverley underscored the need for a high IQ, veteran presence to serve as an organizer and floor spacer if the core remains intact. Is that Beverley? Coby White? Somebody in free agency? Don’t forget: The Bulls need to add shooting too. It will be an intriguing offseason.

Do you think DeMar DeRozan will be traded this offseason? --- Frank P.

If it’s a yes or no question, I lean towards no. But he’s certainly the core member where my antennae is raised the most.


The caveat in that answer, of course, is Vucevic’s future. If no extension is reached before July 1, he can choose to walk. I’d guess that at least two of the three core players return next season, if not all three. Given the upbeat tone that Karnišovas struck at his season-ending news conference and the parity these playoffs have shown with No. 8 seed Miami---who the Bulls had on the ropes in their play-in game---and No. 7 seed Los Angeles Lakers advancing, would anybody be surprised if management tried to add shooting and ran the core back?

DeRozan’s trade value felt higher at the February 2023 deadline, although Karnišovas, in his season-ending news conference, also kept alluding to the fact that no packages made sense. He also at that time positioned the Bulls as a buyer, not a seller. And in conversations with other league executives, I never got the sense the Bulls seriously considered trading any of their core pieces.

Remember: DeRozan also is extension eligible this summer and into next season. That obviously doesn’t mean the Bulls have to extend him. But given the fact he has authored two straight All-Star seasons since arriving in Chicago, he’s obviously looking for---and deserves---one more big payday. His max extension numbers are four years and $179 million.

Maybe I'm wrong on this. But wasn't there some international point guard the Bulls were linked to last offseason who was interested in joining the NBA (and Bulls specifically), but Oklahoma City held his draft rights and he wanted more money than the Bulls had available so they pivoted to Goran Dragic? Might that be a person to monitor as next year's Lonzo Ball replacement. Or do you think one of Patrick Beverly/Coby White/Ayo Dosumnu will still have the job as starting PG? --- Chris F

First of all, doesn’t the Thunder own everybody’s draft rights? But I digress.


Your memory is correct. His name is Vasilije Micic. He’s a 6 foot, 5 inch combo guard from Serbia who has won EuroLeague most valuable player and twice the EuroLeague Final Four most valuable player award while leading his team to EuroLeague titles.

Like Milos Teodosic before him, he’s widely considered the world’s best player not currently in the NBA. Teodosic eventually signed with the Clippers and had some nice moments from 2017-19 but nothing as consistently dominant as his overseas play.

It’s likely there will be some noise again this offseason about Micic entertaining the NBA. But, yes, the Thunder own his draft rights, so the Bulls would have to trade for him. Then, they’d have to negotiate a contract. And did we mention the Bulls need shooting? That’s where I see the majority, if not all, of their midlevel exception being used.

I personally think Coby White has earned the right to start.


What do you think the chances are that Patrick Beverley re-signs? --- Chris T.

If he wants $15 million, as he said on his podcast, extremely small. The Bulls only have non-Bird rights on Beverley, meaning they only can sign him using the veteran’s minimum exception of $3.2 million or a $3.8 million salary unless they want to use some or all of their midlevel exception for a larger payday.

I’m going to keep saying this: The Bulls need to add shooting. That’s where I think the midlevel exception is going to be utilized.

How would you rate Billy Donovan’s performance as the head coach this season? Personally, I’d like to dig up the info and find out what their record is this season in games when he didn’t play Andre Drummond and/or Derrick Jones Jr. I think that record would be 2-14 or something approximate. Drummond proved Donovan wrong a couple months ago when he had that hot stretch after being exiled to the bench. Jones Jr. did the same when he landed back in the rotation (by default because of Javonte Green’s surgery). Full disclosure: I know both Jones and Drummond have had injury issues. --- Matt B.

They’re also mid- to late-rotational players. So focusing Donovan’s performance just on his usage of those two players feels a bit shortsighted.


I Tweeted and wrote as far back as February that I thought Drummond should play more. Yes, he had turnover and foul issues. And he never seemed to fully gain Donovan’s trust. But things happened when he played. Sometimes, they were a bit out of control. But his per-36-minutes rebounding average of 18.8 marked a career-high. That’s saying something for a four-time league leader in rebounding.

The Bulls went 5-3 when Drummond didn’t play by coach’s decision.

As for Jones Jr., it’s hard to argue with Donovan’s usage given the solid reserve minutes that Green often delivered before his knee surgery. You can’t play them all. Credit Jones Jr. for always staying ready and delivering when given the chance. His game-saving block in Philadelphia punctuated one of the bigger victories of the season.


Watching Jimmy Butler in the playoffs has been painful for Bulls fans. Where do you think this franchise would be if the Bulls hadn’t traded him? --- Matt S.

There are too many what-ifs to consider. Would the Bulls have continued on the roughly .500 pace they had been on in Butler’s final two seasons in Chicago? Or would’ve he been successful in trying to recruit someone like Kyle Lowry to the Bulls?

The Bulls got value back for Butler. Zach LaVine is a two-time All-Star. Lauri Markkanen has become one, albeit on his third team. Kris Dunn might’ve even revitalized his career with his strong close to the season in Utah.

Butler is the best of them all, undoubtedly. And he has won the most and produced in the biggest moments.


Butler didn’t want to be traded and was crushed when it happened. But management had entertained the idea of a full rebuild for over a year, almost trading him to Boston at the 2016 NBA draft. After a non-playoff season of 42-40 and a first-round exit following a 41-41 season and with Butler possibly headed to supermax eligibility, management finally made its move.

Credit to Butler for finding the perfect home for himself in Miami. Remember: He played for two teams before finding it.

What are some of your favorite playoff memories from covering the Bulls? --- Todd H.

There are a lot, and I feel fortunate to have been covering the franchise for as long as I have. I will say as I watch these NBA playoffs and hear the intensity of Madison Square Garden through the television screen, there is little that compares to a raucous United Center come playoff time. Man, that building gets loud. It’s electric.


I’d have to start with the dynasty, obviously. Covering the Michael Jordan moments in Utah stand out. The “flu” game from the 1997 NBA Finals and, of course, him sinking the game-winning shot and holding the pose to end the 1998 NBA Finals.

Steve Kerr’s foul-line jumper at the United Center in 1997 to clinch the fifth title.

The 300 level starting the chant “Noc-i-oni, Noc-i-oni!” for Andres Nocioni---picked up loudly by the rest of the building---when the Bulls made their first post-dynasty playoff appearance in 2005 against Washington.

Joakim Noah’s steal, fullcourt drive, dunk and fouling out of Paul Pierce during the epic, seven-game first round series against the Boston Celtics in 2009. In fact, that entire series had so many memorable moments. Derrick Rose tying Lew Alcindor’s record for most points by a rookie in his playoff debut. Kirk Hinrich and Rajon Rondo tussling into the scorer’s table. Ben Gordon trading big-shot haymakers with Ray Allen. That series featured seven overtimes over four different games, and five of the seven games were decided by three points or less. Man.


The 2011 Eastern Conference finals. Rose’s game-winner in 2015 to give the Bulls a 2-1 series lead over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

This isn’t a favorite or happy memory, but Rose crumpled to the ground with his torn ACL in the first round of the 2012 playoffs about 15 feet away from me. I can still see the anguish on so many people’s faces, including then-76ers coach Doug Collins.

There’s nothing like playoff basketball.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.