The Chicago Bulls found themselves square in the middle of the latest round of speculation surrounding Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard amid his trade request. Chicago is said to exploring “multi-team” trades to move Zach LaVine and land Lillard.
NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson explained the impact a trade for Lillard could have for DeMar DeRozan in his latest mailbag.
“The Lillard situation is intensifying. And the Trial Blazers are under no obligation to trade Lillard to his preferred destination of Miami,” Johnson wrote on September 21. “If the Bulls were to trade for Lillard, a contract extension for DeMar DeRozan, who shares Lillard’s agent, would certainly follow.”
Bulls general manager Marc Eversley has already said he wants to re-sign DeRozan.
DeMar DeRozan’s Friendship With Damian Lillard is Key
DeRozan and Lillard are friends and share the same representation, perhaps smoothing any ill feelings the point guard has toward being traded to any destination other than the Miami Heat.
“Whether another team — besides Miami — makes a competitive offer remains the unknown,” wrote Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald on September 21. “If Lillard is traded to a team other than Miami, he is expected to ask to be traded to the Heat.”
Lillard is still owed more than $216 million over the next four years.
“The Bulls would be tied to roughly $115 million for three players in Lillard, DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic once Lillard’s two-year, $121.8 million extension kicks in for the 2025-26 season,” Johnson noted. “Trading LaVine to clear the decks for Lillard might also cost at least another asset in the form of a young player like Patrick Williams or Coby White or first-round picks.”
It’s another layer of complexity on a potential deal that is already complicated due to what the Blazers are seeking in return for Lillard in a trade.
Blazers ‘Showed Little Interest’ in Zach LaVine
“Multiple league sources indicated throughout the offseason that the Trail Blazers showed little interest in acquiring LaVine directly,” Johnson wrote. “Mostly because he doesn’t match their rebuilding path and commitment to a young backcourt of Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons.”
LaVine is 28 years old and has a history of knee issues.
He did, however, make 77 appearances last season, the most he has made since the Minnesota Timberwolves traded him to Chicago. And, despite a slow start, he still finished the season looking more like his typical, efficient scoring self.
LaVine has tried to brush off the persistent trade rumors. But he has also acknowledged that there is a lot of noise.
“It’s always rumors. But I always heard where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” the Bulls star said via NBC Sports Bay Area on August 5. “And, every once in a while, you see a little too much smoke.”
He is heading into the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract. The Bulls have held trade talks with the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers among others regarding LaVine but their high asking price has been termed as a “ giant roadblock” and has led to very little movement beyond the preliminary discussions.