The Chicago Bulls could be running out of time to make this work, says starting center Nikola Vucevic. Perhaps that spurs them into making a move that might better balance out the roster but would see them have to part with two-time former All-Star Zach LaVine who signed a five-year, $215 million max contract last offseason.
– Zach LaVine
“LaVine … could add electric scoring, ignitable shot-making and secondary distributing to this attack,” Buckley wrote on August 30. “Milwaukee could provide him with the kind of defensive protection he’s never had in his career.”
Middleton, 32, was a key part of the Bucks’ title run in 2020-21 but injuries have been an issue since the 2021-22 postseason in which he made just two appearances, averaging 14.5 points per game. This past postseason, Middleton averaged 23.8 points per game – slightly higher than he averaged during the Bucks championship season in 2020-21.
He signed a three-year contract worth up to $102 million in free agency to return to Milwaukee meaning this trade cannot happen until December 15. He is coming off an injury-marred 2022-23 season for the Bucks, making just 33 appearances.
His 15.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game were his lowest marks in either category since the 2016-17 season, though his 4.9 assists were the second-most of his career.
Middleton also shot 31.5% from beyond the arc, his worst mark since his rookie season.
Beauchamp was the No. 24 overall pick of the draft in 2022. He averaged 5.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.5 minutes per game across 52 appearances with 11 starts, averaging 8.3 points, 4.5 boards, and 1.3 assists in those games.
Allen averaged 10.4 points and shot 39.9% from deep last season, though he and the Bulls have a bit of a sordid past after his flagrant foul on fellow guard Alex Caruso during the 2021-22 season. Caruso missed 22 games with a broken hand while Allen received a one-game suspension.
Bulls Have Shopped Zach LaVine
Chicago has had feelers out on LaVine’s trade value dating back to at least this past season’s trade deadline. He is heading into the second year of his contract and, after a slow start to last season, he rounded into his usual form on the court.
Vucevic also suggested this season could be the last this core has together.
If that is the case, the Bulls will likely want to see what they can be before pulling the trigger on any deals anyway, which plays into this scenario since Middleton cannot be traded until December. The Bulls will be on the verge of playing their 25th game of the regular season by that point.
They should have a fairly clear idea of where they stand in the Eastern Conference even with the Play-In Tournament essentially expanding the playoff field.
There is one other potential issue with this deal too.
Insider Believes Bulls Eyeing Giannis Antetokounmpo
According to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, the Bulls could be setting themselves up to land Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo who continues to leave the door open for a potential exit after the 2024-25 season.
“I believe that’s exactly what the Bulls are positioning themselves to do, with all eyes on Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2025,” Mayberry wrote on August 30. “If such a plan comes together, we’ll suddenly look at the Bulls front office and their continuity plan a whole lot differently.”
Planning two years ahead is a bold move, especially with little assurance that Antetokounmpo would seriously consider a move to the Bulls or that the Bucks would help facilitate it.
And if the Bulls are targeting Antetokounmpo, helping the Bucks reload is counterproductive.