The Chicago Bulls just wrapped up their most successful season in five years, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Despite this, they now find themselves involved in the worst kind of rumors involving one of their top stars.
Recent reports have indicated that guard Zach LaVine returning to the team this offseason is no longer a definite. In fact, as the weeks have gone on since LaVine’s non-committal exit interview, more teams have come out of the woodwork as potential suitors for the two-time All-Star. Most recently, LaVine was connected to a Western Conference contender.
According to long-time NBA insider Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks’ front office has been considering the possibility of chasing LaVine in the free agency market.
“Sources nonetheless maintain that one option already being weighed by team brass is the prospect of joining the sign-and-trade bidding for the Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, amid a growing belief around the league that LaVine, as he heads into free agency, has more interest in leaving Chicago than initially presumed,” Stein wrote.
Dallas was eliminated in the Western Conference Finals this year and will be looking to compete again next season. Adding LaVine to the roster could provide them with a deadly one-two punch of Luka Doncic and the current Bulls guard.
While the Mavericks could potentially show an interest in the Bulls All-Star, Stein also noted that getting him to Dallas wouldn’t be easy.
Path to Dallas Acquiring LaVine is ‘Unclear’
The Mavericks have a bunch of money tied up in Tim Hardaway Jr. ($19.6 million), Spencer Dinwiddie ($18.0 million), and Davis Bertans ($16.0 million) next season, and that’s without the potential signing of Jalen Brunson. In turn, there will be no easy way for them to snag LaVine, according to Stein.
“Dallas’ path to trading for a player as coveted as LaVine is unclear, given its limited assets, but the appeal of his skill set is obvious,” Stein explained.
Despite this, the Mavericks’ interest in LaVine remains. Stein said that they believe he could be a great fit next to Doncic due to his offensive skillset.
“Dallas sees LaVine as the sort of player who could fill other crucial needs with his ability to both play off Dončić as a long-range shooter and likewise collapse defenses by slashing to the basket to score,” wrote Stein.
While the Mavericks will likely take an interest in LaVine, they weren’t the only team mentioned by Stein as a potential suitor.
3 More Teams Listed as LaVine Destinations
In addition to the Mavericks, Stein mentioned that three other teams have been commonly brought up in league circles as potential destinations for LaVine.
“Atlanta, Portland and San Antonio — all of whom possess either the cap space or the trade pieces to more readily chase him — have already been mentioned as likely LaVine suitors,” Stein revealed.
While the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers were mentioned in a report by NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson not too long ago, the San Antonio Spurs have now entered the mix. They had been thrown around as a possible landing spot, but Stein’s report likely means that they have officially shown interest.
When LaVine first suggested he may test his options in free agency, Spurs guard Dejounte Murray went to work quickly on Twitter. He posted a Photoshopped image of LaVine in a Spurs jersey, causing Twitter to panic. The tweet was deleted, but fans were quick to grab a screenshot before the Spurs guard could wipe away his recruitment.
LaVine and Murray are friends from their time growing up in Washington. The Bulls guard is from Renton, Washington, while Murray is from Seattle.
As the offseason drags on, LaVine’s contract situation will loom over Chicago’s head like a dark cloud on an overcast day. And with the number of teams taking an interest, retaining him won’t be easy.