‘Realistic’ Trade Proposal Swaps Bulls’ Zach LaVine for Recent Top 5 Pick

Zach LaVine

Getty Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls had a strong finish to his 2022-23 season.

Luck was not on the side of the Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft lottery this year.

The Bulls had just an 8.5% chance of drawing a pick in the top four, and that didn’t happen. Now, due to a stipulation of the Nikola Vučević trade, Chicago will be without a pick in Round 1, as the team would’ve only earned a selection had it been in the top four.

Noting the draft lottery “may have greased the gears for several landscape-altering trades this season,” Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report put together some “realistic” trade proposals for various squads.

For the Bulls, he suggested a deal that would send superstar guard Zach LaVine to the Orlando Magic in exchange for a package that would include the No. 11 overall selection in the draft this year in addition to the 2021 No. 5 pick, point guard Jalen Suggs.

Bulls Get 3 Players & No. 11 Pick in Buckley’s Trade Proposal

The Magic “might be one veteran addition away from making a major leap,” Buckley wrote on May 17, before wondering: “Why couldn’t Zach LaVine be that player?”

Here’s the trade he proposed in his May 17 column:

  • Orlando Magic receive: Zach LaVine
  • Chicago Bulls receive: Gary Harris, Jonathan Isaac, Jalen Suggs and No. 11 pick

“The Bulls keep telling people they aren’t blowing it up, and maybe that’s true,” Buckley wrote. “Then again, that could just be the kind of thing you say when you are about to blow it up and don’t want to receive a bunch of buy-low offers.”

Bulls’ executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas has stated on multiple occasions that he plans on keeping the team’s core players — which includes LaVine and DeMar DeRozan — intact but Buckley thanks Chicago might make some big moves anyway in order to free up some room on its salary cap. LaVine inked a five-year $215 million contract with Chicago in July of 2022 and is the team’s highest-paid player, with a cap hit over $40 million next season.

Buckley also believes unloading that huge contract might make the Bulls agree to take three inferior players and the No. 11 pick.

“It might be best for Chicago to bail this summer before it locks Nikola Vučević into a new deal,” Buckley added. “This may not be top-dollar for LaVine, but that could be hard to find given his colossally expensive contract and history of knee trouble. Chicago gets back one of the firsts it traded in the Vučević deal, plus a plug-and-play wing in Gary Harris, 2021’s No. 5 pick in Jalen Suggs and a 6’11” wild card in Jonathan Isaac, a defensive dynamo who’s basically been healthy once in his six-year career.”

Bulls Would Require Far More in a LaVine Trade

LaVine, 28, just finished his fourth consecutive season averaging over 24 points. In 2022-23, he scored 24.8 points, hauled in 4.5 rebounds and dished out 4.2 assists per game (all stats via Basketball Reference) and he also played well in the Bulls’ first play-in tournament game against the Toronto Raptors, helping propel Chicago to a 109-105 win. He scored 39 points in that game, 30 of which came in the second half.

He’s expensive, but LaVine is also the team’s best player, and he’s very likely not going anywhere, particularly not unless Chicago were to get comparable talent in return.

Picking at No. 11 overall could net the Bulls potentially intriguing pick, as the draft should be a deep one, but adding Suggs, Harris and Isaac probably wouldn’t sway the Bulls. Isaac has played just 11 games over the last three years, despite being the sixth overall selection for Orlando in 2017.

Suggs could also provide a great deal of value. He’s young (he turns 22 on June 3) and he’s an excellent defensive player. In 53 games (19 starts) Suggs averaged 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 23.5 minutes of work. He averaged 11.8 points during his rookie campaign, but has yet to live up to being taken with the fifth overall pick in 2021.

The Bulls could certainly use a young point guard, but they may want to find a more dynamic and reliable one. If Karnišovas and Company do decide to blow things up — and that’s a big if — they’re gonna want more than question marks in return.

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