NBA free agency has resembled the wild west with the level of superstar movement over the past few years.
From June 2018 to January 2021, five of the seven active MVPs changed teams — several did more than once. But with the disassembly of the Houston Rockets over the past year, the volatility around the league is sure to simmer following the James Harden trade.
However, a single move could set off another wave of teams exchanging stars to find their best possible roster to make a championship run.
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine was among five potential superstars CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn could see moving on from their current teams in the next few seasons — the most obvious being Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who leads the league in points this season.
LaVine is second in points behind Beal as his stock is sky high, signaling an opportune time for the Bulls to consider a trade if they intend to move on from LaVine in the future.
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LaVine is Hungry for Recognition
Quinn’s case for LaVine leaving Chicago came down to the state of the Bulls franchise.
LaVine, 25, is relatively young and entering his prime as an ever-improving player in the league, however, he is the oldest piece of a developing core in its first season under new leadership in Arturas Karnisovas and Billy Donovan.
While the team is in the midst of an evaluation year, LaVine’s value has peaked as the Bulls’ go-to score but has yet to reach the postseason in his career.
Chicago Sun-Times beat writer Joe Cowley reported that LaVine is looking for the financial respect that comes with a max contract and potentially will not take a team-friendly deal when his contract expires in 2022.
LaVine has developed into a versatile three-level scorer and a distributor with the Bulls and will be valued as a high-volume ball-handler.
Here’s what Quinn wrote on his prospects around the league:
LaVine falls in the rare class of player that is good enough to actively seek out his preferred destination, but not so good that his own team wouldn’t be open to trading him at the right price regardless of his desires. LaVine will be a free agent in 2022 and has never played in a playoff game. One way or another, that is likely to change by 2023. That might involve the 4-7 Bulls improving internally, or it might involve LaVine forcing his way somewhere else.
Where Could LaVine Land?
The Dallas Mavericks have been in the market for a backcourt partner to Luca Doncic, which could prove to be a deadly combo if the Mavericks make a move for LaVine.
Ja Morant is also another developing star that could use another guard who can be a primary source of threes and still slash to the basket. Quinn also didn’t count out the New York Knicks being a surprise suitor for LaVine.
“If a LaVine trade comes, it is going to come quietly. The Bulls have no reason to turn this into a media circus. But unless they turn things around, he is going to be available at some point in the next 18 months,” Quinn wrote. “That might be through a trade or it might be in free agency, but LaVine will have his chance to join a winner if that’s what he wants.”
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