Things have officially gone off the rails for the Chicago Bulls.
“Let’s get crazy,” writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “Would the Bulls and Magic be interested in an offseason deal centered on Zach LaVine?”
- Bol Bol
- Gary Harris
- Jonathan Isaac
- Jalen Suggs
- 2023 1st round pick (via CHI)
- Zach LaVine
- Patrick Williams
“The Magic could supercharge their lineup with LaVine,” argues Mayberry. “Perhaps the Bulls would throw in Patrick Williams. Maybe the Magic would send back the Bulls’ first-rounder. A Magic starting lineup of [Markelle] Fultz, LaVine, [Franz] Wagner, [Paolo] Banchero, and [Wendell Carter Jr.] has serious potential. Chicago could chart a new and potentially better path with a working core of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Suggs, Isaac, Harris, and potentially [Nikola] Vučević.”
This trade works financially and is, of course, a veritable addendum to the 2020 trade that brought Vucevic to Chicago in exchange for Carter, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, and a pair of first-round picks one of which became Wagner.
The other first-rounder is slated to head to Orlando this offseason, that is unless the Bulls venture back down a path that has bitten them.
Carter and Wagner have both developed into promising young players.
Magic Trade Package Could Bolster Bulls’ Future
Bol has started to translate his tremendous potential as a skilled big man at 7-foot-2 averaging 10.5 points and 6.2 boards. The 23-year-old is in the first year of a two-year, $4.4 million contract that is not guaranteed for the 2024 season.
Harris, 28, is a two-way threat knocking down 45.7% of his three this season. Like Bol, the final $13 million of Harris’ two-year, $26 million pact is not guaranteed.
Issac, the sixth overall pick in 2017, saw his career stalled for two-plus seasons by injuries.
Still just 25 years old and standing 6-foot-11 and with strong perimeter skills, he could entice the Bulls with the final two years and $35 million of his four-year, $69.6 million contract guaranteed for $7.6 million in 2024 and not guaranteed at all in 2025.
Suggs, 21, was the fifth-overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the same draft class that yielded Wagner. He is averaging 9.0 points on 51.6% true shooting with 3.4 assists, and 2.7 rebounds this season. The 6-foot-4 combo guard has good size and athleticism but has struggled with injuries and inconsistency.
This could set the Bulls up for now and possibly for the future.
With Vucevic headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, the Bulls need to start planning for the next chapter even amid their high confidence in retaining the big man’s services on the open market.
DeRozan is set to be an unrestricted free agent the following summer, though there have also been reports he could sign another contract with the Bulls.
Both players are in their 30s so, even if they land second contracts, time is not on their side while NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson says he expects there to be some big changes even if not in a full rebuild.
Arturas Karnisovas Could Be Gun-Shy
This isn’t as out of bounds as it may seem – the Bulls had trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks about LaVine in the days and weeks leading up to the trade deadline. It’s possible they re-visit that in the summer with LaVine a year into his five-year, $215 million max contract and further removed from the offseason knee surgery that slowed him to start the year.
Where Karnisovas likely gets squeamish is the inclusion of Williams even if it would bring back the pick that could fall as high as fifth and still convey to Orlando.
Williams is his first draft pick as the architect of this team and, just like looking to re-sign Vucevic, giving up on something he is so heavily invested in could send the wrong message.
There is also the risk that Williams develops in Orlando as Carter and Wagner have.