Saturday, June 25, 2022

Proposed deal sees Bulls land $90M sharpshooter for former all-rookie guard

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The Chicago Bulls’ pursuit of two-way players could quickly become a hunt for specialists, writes The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. That could lead to Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas exploring a trade that could give a struggling player a fresh start.

This offseason has been all about Zach LaVine’s free agency for the Bulls. But they still need to improve the squad even if he re-signs.

Karnisovas has publicly stated his desire for continuity.

But he also recognized the need to improve and explore all options. One option is to trade with Coby White, the fourth-year guard. Mayberry suggests kicking in the hoops of another embattled player who’s already made money: Miami Heat’s Duncan Robinson.

In his mailbag, Mayberry answered fan questions about how the Bulls can improve this offseason. One asked specifically about the Bulls’ need for three-point shooters. They finished fourth in the league and shot 36.9% from three-point range, according to NBA.com.

The Bulls, however, were 30th in attempts from across the arc. This trend was reversed in the postseason when they placed third in tries and only 15th on a percentage basis.

Mayberry thinks the former undrafted free agent could be the answer for the Bulls.

He suggests the Bulls could look to trade White for the Heat’s designated sniper in a deal that works as long as the Bulls get creative. Maybe they can find a way to sign and trade Derrick Jones Jr. to make the money work.

Otherwise, the Bulls will struggle to match Robinson’s nearly $17 million salary per Spotrac in a deal.

White will only make $7.4 million next season

The only other salaries the Bulls need to match in a package with White are Alex Caruso or Patrick Williams. Giving up any of them would be far too much to accept such an albatross from a deal with Robinson that runs through the 2025 season.

He also has a $19.9 million player option for the 2026 season.

Is that kind of investment worth the performance Robinson put in this past regular season and playoffs?

Robinson is coming off a season in which he averaged 10.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. His 37.2% mark from the long haul during the regular season would have put the Bulls in seventh place behind rookie Ayo Dosunmu.

It’s also the second-lowest mark in Robinson’s four-year career and his second straight season of statistical decline. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra played Robinson off the bench in six of the last seven games of the regular season and just 31.3% in the postseason despite the Heat shooting.

Robinson shot 38.3% of three in the playoffs. But his defense was still poor.

Heat President Pat Riley addressed players like Robinson and teammate Tyler Herro in his exit interview, saying they needed to become winners at both ends of the floor.

“The next part of his development is going in the basket and finishing and making plays and being very aggressive. It’s not just about random bullet cuts. Defensively… he needs to get better. Before that we hang our hats. Duncan can improve. This message was brought to him many times.”

Robinson posted the team’s third-worst defensive rating despite averaging just over 12 minutes per game in the playoffs. His defensive rating was 4.4 points worse than White’s in the postseason.

He played 13 games against White’s five.

As much has been said about the Bulls potentially moving away from White, he has achieved career-high efficiency off the floor and behind the arc. And his contradictory nature can easily be traced back to an equally contradictory setting and circumstances he alluded to in his exit interview.

But the reality is his contract situation combined with the Bulls’ limited ability to improve the squad elsewhere could force a decision.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that white is more likely to be traded than not.

Mayberry acknowledges Robinson’s flawed defense. But he also agrees with the assessment of White’s tenuous (at best) future, with the bulls pointing more towards a trade at this point than anything else Robinson might have in play.

Robinson shot 38.3% of three in the playoffs. But his defense was still bad.

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