The Chicago Bulls could be looking to make a significant pivot.
“The Chicago Bulls…have started contacting teams, quietly gauging the trade interest in Zach LaVine,” Fischer wrote on June 15. “It remains to be seen just how willing Chicago is to part ways with LaVine, or if it receives a commensurate offer for his services.”
LaVine, a back-to-back All-Star the previous two seasons, started the 2022-23 campaign slowly coming off of an arthroscopic procedure last offseason. But he finished the year putting up his typical All-Star-caliber numbers averaging 26.3 points on 50.5% shooting overall and 38.3 % of his looks from beyond the arc over his final 53 regular season appearances.
He is heading into the second year of a five-year, $215 million max contract.
“Multiple teams have indicated the Bulls are holding a steep valuation for LaVine,” added Fischer. “One that’s likely to exceed what Washington can ultimately net for [Bradley] Beal.”
This marks the second consecutive transaction window that LaVine had been rumored on the trading block. Chicago was said to have held at least cursory discussions with both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
New Rumors Might Not Sit Well With Zach LaVine
LaVine has grown “tired” of the constant trade rumors, per NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on May 25, perhaps because he did not so much as take a visit with another team as one of the top free agents on the market last offseason. He’s also clashed with head coach Billy Donovan who benched LaVine after the latter’s poor performance in a loss to the Orlando Magic.
The on-cour fit between LaVine and teammate DeMar DeRozan has also come with turbulence.
But he and DeRozan have remained friends and insist their on-court partnership can be a winning one.
Still, the Bulls could view LaVine as being in between their two timelines with their roster currently constructed as it is.
DeRozan, 33, is heading into the final year of a three-year, $81.9 million contract while center Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent, though talks on a new deal have already begun with the 32-year-old pivot.
Those two are likely to bring back the kind of value LaVine could in a trade with the rest of the Bulls’ roster either unproven or possessing a limited ceiling. Trading LaVine could be the Bulls’ best path toward replenishing their young talent and war chest of draft picks that were depleted putting this roster together.
Fischer’s notes on Beal and the Bulls’ valuation of LaVine could be the keys, however.
Beal is going into the second year of a five-year, $251 million contract with a $57.1 million player option in the final season.
The Bulls could be assessing LaVine’s value amid news that Beal and the Washington Wizards could work together on a trade if they rebuild, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. LaVine, 28, is nearly two full years younger and will cost nearly $30 million less over the next four years.
Patrick Beverley: Zach LaVine is an ‘NBA 2K Created Player’
During an interview with Minnesota Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns on the ‘Pat Bev Podcast with Rone’ on June 14, Bulls’ free agent Patrick Beverley compared LaVine to the popular ‘NBA 2K’ video game.
“That m***********’s cold.,” Beverley said. “He’s a real NBA 2K created player,” Beverley told Towns.
Towns called LaVine “one of the best scorers” he’s “ever seen”.
Beverley has been a big proponent of LaVine’s since arriving and even pointed to his arrival for a post-All-Star break surge for the former No. 13 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Trading LaVine would be a massive change of direction for the franchise even if they hold onto DeRozan – who has been great with the younger players – and Vucevic.