The Chicago Bulls front office has pushed continuity over the last two offseason while simultaneously entertaining offers for Zach LaVine whom they gave a five-year, $215 million contract last offseason.
“With three years left in the deal, maybe [LaVine]’s a better option for the Utah Jazz than what we’ve been talking about because of the fact you got three years of him you know if you trade for Zach LaVine you got three years,” said David Locke of the “Locked on Jazz” podcast on August 9. “I actually think you improve your asset base if you go get Zach LaVine.”
Locke was comparing LaVine to the idea of trading for Pascal Siakam of the Toronto Raptors who is nearly one year older, heading into the final year of his four-year, $136.9 million contract, and is said to be against signing an extension if traded, per Marc Stein of The Stein Line on July 16.
LaVine, 28, averaged 24.8 points on 60.7% true shooting and hit 37.5% of his threes last season.
He was even better after the All-Star break averaging 27.0 points on 64.5% true shooting and connecting on 39.4% of his threes.
Those would be elite numbers with only two players making up the six instances it has happened over an entire season in NBA history, per Stathead: Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry (four times) and Kevin Durant (twice), who did it with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012-13 and again this past season split between the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns.
But Locke’s idea isn’t solely to get LaVine to Utah who fell short of the postseason but were in contention deep into March, though that would be the initial thought behind the trade.
“If he works out, you keep him,” Locke said. “But if he doesn’t, he’s a trade chip.”
Zach LaVine as Trade Bait
“LaVine’s three-year…is a really good trade piece for the future,” said Locke. “[If] another player were to become available, and you were trading Zach LaVine for that higher-end player, along with a bunch of draft compensation we’ve acquired. That, to me, is a better trade for another team than the gaggle of players you might put in a package together.”
The question is whether or not that deal exists and if the Bulls would have accepted it by now were it on the table. Locke does note the additional assets that the Jazz have at their disposal in trade talks.
They would have to surrender a substantial amount of that capital to pry LaVine free based on rumors circulating about the Bulls’ potential asking price.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnsovas has kept it high.
“One league source said the Bulls would be focused on getting a good young player, multiple first-round picks and salary filler if they decide to trade LaVine,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on June 19. “Another said one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”
Zach LaVine Addressed Trade Rumors
Heading into his 10th NBA season and seventh with the Bulls all of which has featured a lot of losing seasons, LaVine has heard all of the noise before and isn’t letting it get to him despite wishing the chatter would stop.
“It’s always rumors. But I always heard where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” LaVine said via NBC Sports Bay Area on August 5. “And, every once in a while, you see a little too much smoke.”
LaVine said that he always reps whatever team he’s on and that he understands the business of the NBA having already been traded once before. But this is not the first time that we have heard he was irked by the constant trade rumors and, given that the sentiments are coming directly from him this time, the the situation could be escalating.