Things happen quickly in the world of sports where yesterday’s promise turns into today’s disappointment leading to tomorrow’s comeuppance. That usually means coming to terms with reality on a deal gone sideways.
“If the opportunity to trade for LaVine did present itself, the Mavs should be all over it, as LaVine is arguably the perfect co-star to add next to [Luka] Doncic,” writes Dalton Trigg of Dallas Basketball. “LaVine is comfortable handling the ball, but he is also capable of playing off-ball as well, as he shoots 38.3% on catch-and-shoot 3s.”
Trigg went a step further with a hypothetical offer.
- Zach LaVine
Breaking Down the Deal
LaVine, who cannot be traded until after December 15, has seen his scoring is dip for the third year in a row – about 4.0 points from last season to 20.7 PPG – and he is doing so on 54% true shooting.
He struggled mightily against the Magic with just four points on 1-for-14 shooting. Bulls head coach Billy Donovan pulled LaVine with under four minutes to go as his team was rallying.
After the game, LaVine made some very pointed comments on the decision.
Bullock, 31, is supposed to be a marksman but is shooting just 30% from downtown. He has two years and over $20 million remaining on his deal but the second year and $10-plus million are not guaranteed.
Green, 22, is a guard and is shooting over 44% from deep on low volume a la Patrick Williams.
Hardaway is the centerpiece among the player return. He missed much of last season with an ankle injury and is averaging 12.1 points while shooting 33% from three.
The real key for the Bulls is the draft compensation. But the two additional opportunities plus two chances to improve their pick would be more enticing if the Mavs weren’t already a good team that would get even better from this deal.
“We’ve been writing about the Mavs’ pipe-dream trade scenario with LaVine for nearly three years now, and that’s still what this is – a pipe-dream,” Trigg admits, “but it’s a pipe-dream worth chasing for Dallas. Not to mention, we already know the Mavs have a lot of interest in the idea.”
Independent NBA insider Marc Stein reported over the summer that the Mavericks’ front office had at least discussed the idea of a sign-and-trade for the two-time All-Star.
Stein also reported on a belief that LaVine was open to leaving the Bulls at the time.
LaVine has since stated always wanted to stay in Chicago with reports that he was telling teammates just that from the outset of the process which ended without any visits to other teams despite strong rhetoric from LaVine during his exit interview.
Hypothetical offer aside, Trigg also admits that this offer is not likely to be enough to warrant the Bulls’ attention for a reason familiar to Bulls fans.
“Due to the fact that Dallas is limited with draft capital until after the 2023 draft,” cites Trigg, “many believe the next big attempt to add a co-star next to perennial MVP candidate Luka Doncic won’t happen this season.”
Bulls In A Bind
The notion of being limited by resources is essentially why the Bulls might have to at least consider trading LaVine. They gave up a total of three first-round picks and $153 million dollars on DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.
Their core is split between two timelines and neither has quite lived up to expectations.
LaVine is also not the only Bulls star that could garner interest from teams chasing a title with DeRozan and Vucevic both being mentioned as potential targets in rumors.
If the Bulls are going to part themselves out, they have to go all-in.
They still owe this year’s first-round pick to the Magic from the Vucevic trade. But they will get to keep the pick if it lands in the top four – they are three games back from the six-seed where they finished last season and from having the worst record, with the Detroit Pistons technically 3.5 games worse at 3-14.
“Let’s check back in with the Bulls about a month from now when recently-signed players can officially be traded on Dec. 15,” Trigg concludes