It’s been an active offseason for Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine in the rumor mill. But the two-time All-Star is going about his business as usual, albeit with some additional name value this offseason.
LaVine got in some offseason work with Miami Heat star Tyler Herro – who has been mired in trade rumors of his own – with the latter posting images to his Instagram on September 1. It was a star-studded run that also featured Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 overall pick in 2022.
They are said to have spoken with the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Nothing has gone beyond the exploratory stage with at least one interaction said to be halted by the Bulls’ exorbitant asking price in any trade for LaVine which could speak volumes about how they truly feel about the prospects of moving him.
“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 K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago on June 19. “Another said one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”
LaVine’s value – to the Bulls and other teams – could rise significantly if this bit of offseason work is any indication.
Zach LaVine Could Get Off to Fast Start
LaVine entered last season with minimal work during the offseason following an arthroscopic procedure on his knee. The injury affected him down the stretch of the 2021-22 campaign and kept him out of four of the Bulls’ first 11 games last season including the opener.
He did get some individual work in and even showed he still had his athleticism. But there was nothing like the work he presumably got in with Herro and Co.
“Until training camp, I didn’t pick up a basketball,” LaVine said, per Johnson on December 26. “So not jumping or working out or doing anything you usually do during the offseason to prepare yourself for the season, I pretty much got that on the run during games.”
LaVine got better as the season went on, averaging 22.6 points on 57.7% true shooting from the start of the regular season through December 31, 2022. From January 1 through the end of the regular season, he averaged 26.4 points on 62.7% true shooting, though his three-point efficiency fell, dropping from 38.1% to 37% despite fewer attempts as he got to the rim more effectively.
It’s still a good baseline expectation as LaVine enters the 2023-24 campaign completely healthy.
This Season Could Be Bulls’ ‘Last Chance’
Having a healthy LaVine to start the season is critical for a Bulls front office that may be feeling the pressure after three years of this core. Starting center Nikola Vucevic, who re-signed on a three-year, $60 million contract extension before the start of free agency, seems the think the end is close if they don’t produce this season.
“We know we can do better, and we have to do better,” Vučević said, per Yahoo Sports NBA reporter Jake Fischer on August 31. “And we know it’s kind of our last chance as this core of guys to do something.”
The only way to quell the rumors is to play well and win games.