Did Zach LaVine use his influence to help recruit anyone to join him with the Chicago Bulls this offseason?
We don’t know, but he has lobbied for former teammate Antonio Blakeney to find a spot back on an NBA roster. After a strong summer league performance from Blakeney for the Portland Trail Blazers, LaVine took to Twitter to offer his endorsement for his former teammate, calling him “a bucket.”
Blakeney’s Time With the Bulls
As a rookie, Blakeney played in 19 games for the Bulls during the 2017-18 season. He He averaged 7.9 points per game because of his offensive aggressiveness, though he struggled with efficiency.
The following year, Blakeney played a more prominent role off the bench appearing in 57 games with 3 starts. Blakeney averaged 7.3 points per game, but his efficiency skyrocketed. He made just under 40% of his threes and raised his field-goal percentage from 38% to 42%.
He would seemingly have a place on an NBA roster, but he ran into some legal issues earlier this year.
Blakeney Was Arrested Earlier This Year
Back in May, Blakeney was arrested for allegedly arranging a robbery in Florida. Details of the resolution to that case weren’t available, as attempts to confirm with his lawyer haven’t rendered any updates. The initial reports indicated Blakeney “categorically denies” being involved in the alleged crime.
Blakeney’s participation in summer league suggests at least some point of clarity has come in the case.
Blakeney’s Scoring Prowess is Perfect for a Bench Role
From a pure basketball standpoint, Blakeney seems like the ideal, low-cost free agent signing for a team looking to add scoring punch off the bench. At this point, the Bulls might not be the best fit for that role, unless they’re expecting to move Coby White, or he will be out for an extended period.
Quite honestly, the Bulls may have some serious decisions to make as it pertains to White this year, or in the coming offseasons.
Coby White’s Time in Chicago Could Be Short
The Bulls have just invested $80 million into Lonzo Ball over the next 4 seasons, so it is clear who they see as their franchise point guard.
While White has struggled to find himself in a PG rope, he is very talented, and unlikely to be satisfied as a backup long-term. At some point, White could want something similar to what Lauri Markkanen recently requested, a “fresh start.“
A player like Blakeney might be more apt to relish the sixth-man role, especially over the next few seasons.
Can Antonio Blakeney Play Coby White’s Role?
The Blazers may obviously have some interest, but Chicago’s familiarity with Blakeney could be a factor.
If Blakeney can show he can consistently find the bottom of the net, he could be a smart addition to the reserve unit which figures to be powered by guys who can’t create their own shot (Alex Caruso, Troy Brown Jr., Marko Simon is and Tony Bradley), White is the only exception.
The Bulls have seemingly made it clear to teams who are interested in acquiring Markkanen, they are looking to recoup the draft picks they have given up in the deals that brought Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan.
There is also the chance the Bulls could be penalized a draft pick once the NBA tampering investigation into the Ball sign-and-trade with the New Orleans Pelicans concludes.
Because of this predicament, the Bulls are placing high value on collecting picks. If they do decide to move White in search of another first-rounder, a player like Blakeney wouldn’t be a bad replacement for the role.
Blakeney is on the Blazers’ summer league team, but if interested, Chicago could make a run at him. Based on what we have seen, LaVine wouldn’t hate the idea.
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