The 2021-22 season seemed to carry a ton of promise for the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls, fresh off signing DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, immediately established themselves as a legitimate playoff-caliber team. DeRozan, in particular, played out of his mind, spurring the Bulls to victory one game after another with his crunch-time exploits en route to a career-best average in points.

However, the Bulls ended up tailing off to end last season, thanks in no small part to Ball’s injury. Before Ball’s season-ending injury on January 15, the Bulls were 27-14, good for first in the Eastern Conference. Since then, the Bulls went 19-22, knocking them all the way to the sixth seed, which set up a date against the then-defending champion Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Surely enough, the Bulls just weren’t able to keep up with the Bucks’ firepower and ended up losing in five games.

And it seems as if the Bulls have carried over their trend of worrying play into the 2022-23 season.

In the early goings of the season, Chicago has gone 8-11, good for 12th in the nip-and-tuck East. While DeMar DeRozan is still doing his best to carry the team on his back, the rest of the supporting cast has been unable to pick up the slack needed for the Bulls to return to its early 21-22 season levels. Zach LaVine, in particular, is tallying his worst output in five years, while Nikola Vucevic, acquired for a hefty price in 2021, is averaging the least points he has since the 2016-17 season, when the glut of Orlando Magic bigs threw his role into considerable flux.

Vucevic may also not have been the best fit alongside offensive-minded wings such as DeRozan and LaVine, although it’s difficult to envision the Bulls trading away their marquee center despite his impending free agency at season’s end. The best the Bulls could target, perhaps, to make something of what seems to be a bleak situation are marginal improvements, and they could end up dangling a young guard who just hasn’t been able to separate himself from the rest of the Bulls’ cavalry of ballhandlers.

Bulls player who must be traded: Coby White

Coby White was drafted seventh overall by the Bulls in the 2019 NBA draft in an attempt to plug the hole they had at point guard at the time. Tomas Satoransky and Kris Dunn were defense-first options at the point, which meant that White, with his shot creation skillset, would provide the Bulls with a different dimension and, perhaps, take over the mantle as their point guard of the future given the direction the position is heading in today’s NBA.

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For White’s part, he has improved through his first three seasons in the league even as he’s seen his role get yanked around. While the 22-year old guard’s counting stats went down last season due to his reduced role behind Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and even rookie Ayo Dosunmu, he improved his shooting efficiency, perhaps foreshadowing continued development from the young guard.

However, it just hasn’t worked out for Coby White during the early goings of the 2022-23 season, as he’s seen his scoring numbers, efficiency, and minutes plummet to career-worst levels. White is currently averaging 7.8 points on 38 percent shooting from the field, and it’s difficult to make an argument for whose minutes he should be taking given his current struggles.

For one reason or another, White hasn’t been entrusted by the Bulls coaching staff with a considerable role, and to make matters worse for the young guard, the Bulls signed 36-year old Goran Dragic as additional depth to further clutter the backcourt picture.

Thus, a White trade could end up being what’s best for both parties, especially when the four-year guard out of UNC is slated to hit free agency come season’s end.

White may be struggling, but he’s still only 22 years old, which should make him an enticing project for a rebuilding team like, perhaps, the San Antonio Spurs, who are lacking for guard depth behind starting point guard Tre Jones. White will also want to prove what he’s capable of when given heavy minutes, which seems far-fetched with the Bulls barring any unforeseen injuries to Dosunmu, Caruso, and Dragic.

In the process, the Bulls could target a player who could help them win now, a 3 and D wing (like, say, a Josh Richardson) that they need badly to bolster the supporting cast behind DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, and someone who could help shore up the defensive weaknesses of Nikola Vucevic.