On December 20, Joe Cawley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that there had been a blowup between Chicago Bulls players at halftime during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which, according to Cowley, was not the first time they’ve had a blowup.
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago later confirmed Cowley’s report while also specifying that teammates had expressed their frustration at Zach LaVine, which caused the situation to escalate.
After the Bulls beat the Miami Heat on December 20, Nikola Vucevic spoke about what went on at halftime, saying that the blowup was “no big deal,” that “heated conversations happen all the time in pro sports,” and that incidents like those “come from a place of care,” per Johnson.
With their victory over the Heat, the Bulls are 12-18, which still places them as the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have not had any blowups since then, but it’s only been one game.
LaVine Could Be Traded to Lakers or Knicks
In light of the Bulls’ struggles, Johnson wrote an article ranking the Bulls’ trade assets should they decide to start over. LaVine was ranked No. 2, where Johnson explained that the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks could bid for his services should he become available.
“LaVine is enduring an up-and-down season that began with him in and out of the lineup as he dealt with a management plan for his twice-surgically repaired knee. Still, he, too, could be coveted by teams like the Lakers and Knicks should he be prominently placed in trade talks,” Johnson said.
Johnson then added what the Bulls would want in return for LaVine, though he acknowledged there would be some obstacles that would prevent them from finding a trade partner.
“LaVine signed a five-year, $215 million max contract this offseason. The Bulls likely would seek a package of young players and draft picks in return.
“However, given the history of LaVine’s knee, the amount of money left on his deal, and signs that his on-court decision-making ability is regressing, it may be hard to find a suitor. And even in the event of a roster reset, his age (27) combined with his value being at a low point could compel the Bulls to prioritize the Bulls flipping other chips first.”
As of now, LaVine has not been put on the trade market, but if the Bulls continue to struggle, their best option may be to make LaVine available.
On-Court Tension Between LaVine and DeMar DeRozan
In a December 20 The Athletic story, Shams Charania reported that LaVine and Demar DeRozan have had some issues with one another on the court though the two of them get along as people.
“DeRozan and LaVine have always had a strong mutual respect,” Charania said. “They maintain a good personal relationship. But their meetings have not led to in-game results so far, with a level of on-court, stylistic tension simply festering throughout the season and being magnified due to the win-loss record.”
Charania also detailed what the Bulls have done to help the two make amends with one another.
“The Bulls have held multiple team meetings trying to work out their issues, and that has included one-on-one, face-to-face sitdowns between DeRozan and LaVine, according to team and league sources who were granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on team dynamics.”