Everyone loves a good sports story – the long-tenured veteran finally winning the big one or the diamond-in-the-rough that goes on to become a superstar. And of course, there is the local talent getting a chance to play for their hometown team which Chicago Bulls fans know well thanks to Derrick Rose.
When it comes to Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis, however, the path from dream to reality is not quite clear.
Davis, who is squarely in the middle of a contract that will have paid him nearly $190 million over five years when all is said and done, has entertained the idea. Even more so in recent years than in the past.
But, as one Western Conference executive explained, getting it done is complicated.
‘Hard to See’ AD to CHI
“AD has always talked about playing in his hometown,” the exec told Heavy Sports’ NBA insider Sean Deveney, “but it is hard to see a deal that could come together there. Not sure the Bulls would consider doing Zach LaVine for Davis but that is probably what it would take and that would not be able to happen until later because LaVine signed the new contract.”
Everything the Bulls have done under vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas leading up to this summer was essentially about retaining LaVine.
The Bulls signed him to a $215 million max deal this summer, the largest in franchise history.
They are off to a 2-2 start that featured a pair of disheartening losses sandwiched in between a pair of convincing victories. LaVine missed their first two games, making his debut in the home opener with 23 points on 52.7% shooting.
He will continue to have his workload managed but both he and the Bulls are all-in together.
Davis and the Lakers are off to a rough start, going 0-3 to start the new season amid shaky team chemistry. The Chicago native Davis, however, is off to a solid start averaging 24.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.3 blocks, and 1.0 assists.
The rebounds and assists are down from last season but everything else is on par or slightly improved.
Still, uncertainty around the Lakers has led to conversations about potential shakeups.
What AD Would Bring
“I don’t see them trading AD. Not with all the connections he has on that team, with LeBron, and with Klutch. They gave up so much to get him to L.A., they’re not going to turn around and dump him. Even with the injuries, though, everyone would want him, he is still an elite two-way player when he is healthy.”
Davis’ offensive rating has ranked in the 58th percentile or better in eight of his 11 NBA seasons, per Cleaning The Glass.
His defensive rating has also been in the 52nd percentile or better in eight of his 11 seasons.
He has seen his defensive rating rank in the 91st percentile or better three times in his career, though just one of those has been since he arrived in Los Angeles. Davis’ defensive rating has been 46th percentile or worse in three of his four seasons including this year’s small sample.
“The Lakers won a championship because they traded for Anthony Davis,” CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn pointed out on Twitter. I’m not interested in any analysis of that trade that doesn’t start there. It worked out for the Pelicans too. Davis has struggled to stay healthy. But the Lakers won a championship so it’s a good trade. Period.”
It would likewise likely take a similar return for the Bulls to move on — he doesn’t have the pedigree but he is every bit the face of the franchise.
The Bulls are as far from moving LaVine as the Lakers are with Davis.
No Major Change…Yet
There were some alarms sounded after the Bulls dropped their second game in a row, that home opener, against the rival Cleveland Cavaliers in blowout fashion. But their first and most recent games were strong enough to warrant additional patience.
It could also be a sign of how middling this team could be this season while managing, not only LaVine but also dealing with the absence of Lonzo Ball until closer to the trade deadline.
How will that impact any potential trade talks?
In a revamped Eastern Conference, the Bulls were written off this offseason. But, they proved a lot of naysayers wrong last season and could do so again this year which further lessens the odds of a major deal.