The Chicago Bulls have moved very much like a team pushing continuity again but that may just be their message to the public.
“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 Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on June 19. “Another said one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”
First got word that the Bulls were “quietly gauging” the interest in LaVine came from Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer who added that they were likely looking for a package that exceeded what the Washington Wizards got from the Phoenix Suns for Bradley Beal.
Johnson’s report certainly tracks with that, though he notes this could all be exploratory.
LaVine, 28, is nearly two years younger and will cost nearly $30 million less over the next four years. He is also the last remaining piece from the Bulls’ trade sending out Jimmy Butler, now of the Miami Heat, a distinction that can only carry so far for the organization given a new front office is in charge than the one that acquired him.
He is one of just two players on the roster from the previous group.
Zach LaVine a Rarity on the Bulls’ Roster
The other is former No. 7 overall pick Coby White, a restricted free agent who has gone from on the trading block to potentially being the Bulls’ starting point guard going into next season. His connection with LaVine could even be a reason to keep him in the building.
Chicago posted a plus-1.2 net rating with White on the floor this past season, ranking in the 60th percentile, per Cleaning The Glass.
They had a plus-24.2 net rating when he was slotted in alongside LaVine, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic which was good enough to rank in the 94th percentile. The only qualifying lineup (minimum of 100 non-garbage time possessions) including White that had a better net rating had Patrick Beverley in Caruso’s place.
Beverley has said that it is “likely” he plays elsewhere next season, and Lonzo Ball is set to miss his second consecutive season due to a knee injury. A LaVine trade could have a ripple effect on White’s future.
Bulls Possibly Picking a Timeline
Trading LaVine would seem to indicate the Bulls are considering blowing up the roster or even taking given they will have full control of their first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. But, rather than a complete teardown, they could be looking to replenish their assets while keeping the younger players in a competitive environment.
LaVine is an elite scorer on a roster that also features two other high-level scorers, and none of them are particularly adept defensively. Chicago is going to be flirting with paying into the luxury tax, which owner Jerry Reinsdorf has never done so changes could be looming.