The Chicago Bulls (19-21) could look very different next season even beyond the anticipated departure of big man Nikola Vucevic barring a late-developing change of heart on a new deal. There have been rumblings they were considering making changes.
One member of their big three – two-time All-Star Zach LaVine – is still rumored to be harboring memories of being benched by head coach Billy Donovan as well as a disconnect with the organization. That has fueled speculation that he could seek a trade if things continued, a notion LaVine has pushed back against.
That was also before they won eight of 11 games, however, in a stretch that has seen a return to form for their star trio.
Still, there is a thought LaVine could be a chip used to land LeBron James.
Bulls Could Trade Zach LaVine for a King’s Ransom
“LeBron has always had a soft spot for Chicago,” a Western Conference executive tells Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney, so it could work, and he could play with [DeMar] DeRozan, maybe Lonzo [Ball] if he is healthy. It would be an interesting mix.”
The executive could see the Bulls getting in on the bidding though they add it would likely be as an outside hopeful.
Part of that is what getting LaVine does for the Lakers.
“They’d be a darkhorse for me in this just because they have Zach and he could be a star for the Lakers,” the exec said before conceding, “even if they would not be that good of a team.”
- LeBron James
- Alex Caruso or Patrick Williams
- Zach LaVine
“LaVine, who played collegiately for UCLA, would be the draw for the Lakers,” notes the exec. “But would the Bulls be willing to add Patrick Williams to the package? The Lakers would surely ask. If that does not work out, a LaVine-Alex Caruso package could work as a return for the Lakers”.
Williams was the fourth-overall pick in 2020 and appears to finally be hitting his stride.
Caruso, 27, signed with the Bulls after winning a championship with the Lakers in 2020 and was as much of a fan favorite there as he has been in Chicago while Ball remains out indefinitely.
It could make sense for the Bulls to hold on to Williams as they would be getting significantly older at the already-aging top of the roster. But, if the exec is right about what that version of the Lakers’ ceiling would be, L.A. might insist on Williams before agreeing to anything.
King of His Castle
Quotes attributed to James caused quite a stir portraying him as frustrated and demanding the front office make a trade to improve the Lakers’ roster. James pushed back suggesting that his words were misrepresented in a report from Sam Amick of The Athletic.
“Y’all know what the f— should be happening,” James told Amick and The Athletic per the report. “I don’t need to talk.”
A report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst casts further doubt on whether James wants out citing the two-year, $97 million contract extension James signed in September.
“That was the actions of somebody who has no intention of leaving the Lakers,” Windhorst said of James’ decision to sign through the 2025 season on “The Hoop Collective” podcast on January 9. “So, really, his weapon…is to make the Lakers uncomfortable. It’s not, I think, a threat he’s going to walk on them. I think the Lakers are fully aware of that.
James could still be traded and has sounded open to a change, albeit not implicitly a trade.
To his and the Lakers’ benefit, Anthony Davis is set to ramp back up in his return from a fractured bone spur, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The injury has cost him 15 games already with the Lakers going 8-7 thanks to their current five-game winning streak.
That just clouds the picture further though there is plenty of time for things to change since James cannot be traded until next offseason thanks to the deal.
Like 2010 All Over Again
Bulls fans surely remember the summer of 2010 when it seemed possible and even likely that the Bulls could land James and Chicago-area native Dwyane Wade to pair with Derrick Rose. It never happened as both players took their talents to South Beach (back in Wade’s case) and would serve to torment Rose and the Bulls in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
There is also the GOAT debate aspect.
James has handed himself the title and has an army behind him in agreement. Would he rather prioritize pursuing that outright in a different uniform? Or, as Giannis Antetokounmpo said, could he fulfill the dream of many NBA players and don a Bulls uniform before calling it a career?
It is a long and twisted rabbit hole of an idea that seems less likely to occur the further you dig into the logistics like James and LaVine sharing the same agency, Klutch Sports Group.