“Getting out from under a long-term contract like Zach LaVine‘s (which runs through 2026-27), could kickstart such a reboot,” wrote Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report on June 23. “A trade involving him and Tobias Harris (whose deal ends in 2024) might make some sense.”
– Tobias Harris
-2029 1st Rd Pick
– Zach LaVine
The draft compensation could be a big sticking point.
Philadelphia won’t have full control of their first-round picks until 2029 at the earliest, though they could add swap options to push this one over the top, assuming the Bulls are so inclined.
Harris, 30, averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and just a hair under 1.0 steals per game this past season. He shot 50.1% from the floor overall and 38.9% from beyond the arc and is heading into the final year of a five-year, $180 million contract that has been difficult for them to maneuver around.
Some rivals believe Philly is “overvaluing” Harris, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“The Sixers will only make a deal that would be hard to pass up,” Pomey wrote on June 21. “Teams around the league believe the Sixers are…asking for ‘outrageous packages in return’.”
He also showed why teams have been reluctant to take him off Philly’s hands as he averaged 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds as the Sixers blew a 3-2 lead to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. A trade to the Bulls would be Harris’ sixth in his 13-year career (including draft night) and would mean suiting up for as many teams.
“The Sixers aren’t willing to trade him unless it drastically improves their team,” Pompey added.
Zach LaVine Could Be Upgrade Sixers Seek
LaVine, 28, would certainly be an upgrade from Harris from a production and longevity standpoint. He averaged 26.4 points on 62.7% true shooting and shot 37.0% from deep after the calendar flipped to 2023.
He is heading into the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract.
While he is said to have no interest in joining the New York Knicks, perhaps a trade to the Sixers to pair with Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, and possibly James Harden – who would be the best passer LaVine has ever played with – is more intriguing. LaVine’s feelings on the Knicks are said to be based in part on the influence of the CAA sports agency in the organization.
LaVine’s fellow Klutch Sports client, Maxey, is currently a rising star for Philly. Klutch also represents injured Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball while the Knicks are one of 12 teams that do not currently roster a player on their lengthy list of clients.
Potential Reset After Next Season
“[The Bulls are] 28th in the NBA in winning percentage over the last six seasons, and the more recent additions of Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan only elevated the team from bad to mediocre,” Bailey writes. “And a team like the Philadelphia 76ers, who might convince themselves they’re one piece away, could use LaVine’s explosiveness.
Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has made his interest in retaining Vucevic (and the rest of the core) together clear.
They are currently in talks with Vucevic on what rival executives believe will be a three-year pact worth $60-plus million in total, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype which would indicate they truly are ready to double down on this group.
Still, LaVine would represent the Bulls’ best trade asset in any sort of rebuilding effort.
This deal might only make sense if he is demanding a trade to Philadelphia publicly which would drive his trade value down considerably since the Bulls have held a fairly high valuation of the former No. 13 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.
It does, however, fit with some of the follow-up reporting after word broke that they were gauging his trade value once again.
“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.”
Could both teams be convinced that this is the deal they need to make?
The above deal would give the Sixers another high-level scorer around reigning the MVP in Embiid while the Bulls get a versatile player in Harris, draft capital, and the chance at much cleaner books next offseason with DeRozan heading into the final year of his contract.