Bulls Linked to Insulting Bradley Beal Trade Talk

Getty Zach LaVine

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hasn’t been watching the Chicago Bulls and Zach LaVine play this year–especially of late.

He can’t be witnessing the evolution of one of the league’s most talented stars if he is including LaVine’s name in the sort of low-rent trade packages that would suggest the 25-year-old should be packaged in a deal with the Washington Wizards to bring NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal to Chicago.

On a recent episode of his The Hoop Collective podcast, Windhorst suggested the Bulls not only trade LaVine but package him with other draft assets and young players in exchange for Beal.

Here is what Wyndhorst said when discussing potential suitors for Beal, who is in the final year of a 5-year $127 million deal.

The other team that I would say would be a sleeper would be the Bulls. Zach LaVine’s value has never been higher, they have their full complement of picks to trade from, they have a couple of other young pieces on their roster that maybe could interest people. And Arturas Karnisovas – their general manager [executive VP of basketball operations] – has really emphasized the importance to build around shooting. Bradley Beal is one of the best shooters in the league. The Bulls have attempted to build through the draft, and they just haven’t been able to make contact on a star, so I think they are a sleeper team.

There are so many reasons this is a problematic concept.

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LaVine is Playing on an All-NBA Level

The Bulls are on a three-game win streak and much of the team’s success can be attributed to LaVine’s play. He is averaging a career-high 27.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.4 steals. LaVine is also shooting 49.8% from the field and just under 39% from beyond the arc. His play on both ends has been key and it appears as though he has turned the corner as a complete player.

Unless the return is someone like Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, or Giannis Antetokounmpo, I’m not sure LaVine needs to be packaged with anyone in a trade.

Furthermore, the thought that Beal would represent an upgrade over LaVine is questionable in itself.

Beal is Scoring, But the Wizards Are Woeful

It’s true, Beal is leading the NBA in scoring averaging 34.9 points per game in 10 contests. He’s also grabbing 5.3 rebounds and dishing 5 assists per night. LaVine has been a bit more efficient as a shooter from the field (49.4%) and three-point range (37.5%), but it’s clear the two men are in the same ballpark statistically.

Beal is 2 years older at 27, and let’s not forget, the Wizards are horrible, and that’s even with the addition of another superstar in future Hall-of-Famer Russell Westbrook. Washington is a woeful 3-8 and there is no sign of improvement in sight. Some will tell you this has to do with the impact COVID-19 has had on Washington’s season.

There is some truth to that, but the Bulls have lost several players as well to the same circumstances. What I’ve seen is LaVine turn the corner, buy into new coach Billy Donovan’s system, and help to change the trajectory of his team’s season.

I haven’t seen that from Beal this year, or any previous season, so I cram to understand how this proposed deal makes much sense from the Bulls’ perspective.

Beal Might Sign With the Bulls Anyway

Lastly, LaVine isn’t a free agent until after next season, which means the Bulls still have player control for an additional year. There’s also the connection between Donovan and Beal. Donovan coached Beal in college at Florida, where the former won two national championships.

Beal is seemingly still very fond of Donovan. He reacted positively on Twitter when Donovan was hired to coach in Chicago.

There is a reason to believe Beal might be open to signing with Chicago in the offseason. The Bulls figure to have some money to spend as Otto Porter Jr’s $25 million comes off the books, and surely if there was an opportunity to bring in a player of Beal’s caliber, the other requisite room could be made. Also remember, Beal is from St. Louis, which is less than 300 miles from Chicago.

The point is, it makes no sense to make what might be a lateral move for now and sacrifice what could be an even bigger upside down the road. That’s especially the case when you consider, if Chicago really likes Beal, they might be able to ink him without parting ways with any player assets.

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