The Toronto Raptors season is off to a decent start after the first month of the 2022-23 NBA season, all things considered. The team is 9-8 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but that’s with OG Anunoby being the only significant Raptors player who has played all 17 games thus far. As the season goes along and the Raptors (hopefully) get healthier and healthier, there is no reason this team can’t climb its way out of the play-in tournament and into a fifth or sixth (or maybe even fourth) seed in the East. One of the first steps to do that, though, is to make a small trade to strengthen the roster. A move for Chicago Bulls guard Coby White would do just that, which is why it is the most realistic Raptors trade after the first month of the 2022-23 NBA season.
Whether or not Bulls general manager Marc Eversley is willing to admit it yet, his team is on the verge of blowing the whole thing up and starting over again. Masai Ujiri and Raptors GM Bobby Webster can help Eversley take that all-important first step in the right direction by making a Bulls-Raptors trade for guard Coby White.
In return for White, the Raptors can send little-used big man Khem Birch (and his $6.6 million salary) to Chicago along with a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick. White is an expiring contract, while Birch has two years, albeit at a reasonable number.
This is realistic from the Bulls' side because the first-round pick for a player like White — who is averaging 7.3 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 rebounds in nine games — is a great haul for a player who hasn’t contributed that much yet, and will be completely expendable when Lonzo Ball comes back from injury.
On the Raptors' side, it does seem like a lot to give up for a player with those numbers, but the pick would be protected, and if the Raptors have the season they should if they can get healthy, that pick will be in the 20s and not all that valuable.
What the Raptors may get, though, could be huge to help them improve overall.
In Coby White’s career, he’s averaging 13.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. He’s also a career 36.2% 3-point shooter. Now that’s a useful player, and with White’s skill set, he’d be an excellent fit with the Raptors and provide just what they need off the bench.
Even with the Raptors’ injuries, Nick Nurse doesn’t seem to have any trust in young guards Malachi Flynn or Dalano Blanton. Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. have missed a total of eight games combined this season, and still, Flynn is averaging just 12.3 minutes per game and Blanton is stuck at 11.2 minutes.
White could come into this Raptors season and immediately back up VanVleet and Trent, taking Flynn and Blanton’s 23 minutes. And if the two starting guards miss more time, Nurse would have a ready-made starter on the bench to fill in.
The issue with White is that he’s been good in his NBA career so far, but he hasn’t lived up to his status as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The Bulls shopped him this offseason, but even though the current Bulls' power structure didn’t draft him, they didn’t think the trade offers provided enough value in return.
Despite all this, White does have the talent that made him a top-10 pick, and a change of scenery could do wonders for a player like that. Plus, when you add in how good Nurse and the Raptors organization as a whole are at developing young players, adding White seems worth the risk, especially because he is still only 22 years old.
That age is important, too, because it means he fits the timeline for the Raptors as well.
While this is a somewhat conservative, realistic Raptors trade, there is always a chance White will exceed expectations and become a primary or secondary star. If this happens, White’s age puts him right in line to be a long-term partner to Scottie Barnes (23) ad OG Anunoby (25).
That is why this Raptors trade makes so much sense in the short and long term. The team doesn’t give up much other than a likely late first-round pick next season (which the Raptors already have plenty of on the roster). And in return, they get a player who can help as a third rotational guard this Raptors season and a player who could turn into a legitimate piece in the future.