There could be a lot of teams making calls to the Chicago Bulls about some of their players this offseason and one of them could very well be the Los Angeles Clippers.
“They could definitely get into a DeMar DeRozan sweepstakes,” said Dan Favale on the ‘Hardwood Knocks’ podcast on March 23. “I don’t know if they would actually want to. “Can they get into a Zach LaVine sweepstakes if they decide they want to skew that way, towards the offensive end?”
Speculation over the downfall of the DeRozan-LaVine pairing was oversold at first.
But the Bulls are four games below .500, fighting for a Play-In Spot, and have several roster questions to sort through this summer, not the least of which is what to do with the 33-year-old DeRozan who has just one more season on his contract.
LaVine, 27, is signed through 2028 and has over $178 million coming to him after this season with a nearly $49 million player option in the final season. He got off to a slow start after undergoing knee surgery over the summer. After missing four of the Bulls’ first 11 games including the season-opener, he has not missed any seeing action in 43 straight.
The two-time All-Star is averaging 29.9 points on 64.3% true shooting, connecting on 42.9% of his deep looks in March.
There were rumors the Bulls explored their trade options with LaVine at the deadline.
“At our best, we showed what we can be last year [at this time],’’ LaVine said per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times in January. “We were the No. 1 team in the East. At our best, we’re one of the best teams in the league…I’m not worried about our roster.’’
He may not be worried about the Bulls’ roster but executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas surely is. And, with two of his top three stars aging and at or near the end of their contracts, some tough decision need to be made with a pair of youngsters in Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu hitting restricted free agency this summer.
But the Bulls are also light on future assets with a limited roster which could lead them to explore all of their options this summer.
What the Clippers Can Offer for Zach LaVine
“You can trade a 2028 first-round pick, a 2030 first-round pick, and then a swap in 2029,” argues Favale. “So you have some equity to attach to some digestible contracts when you look at the expiring deal of Marcus Morris Sr., teams would probably view Ivica Zubac as an asset, Robert Covington…Let’s throw Terance Mann in here…Even Norman Powell’s deal because it runs so long.”
Mann is the most intriguing of the player pieces – and arguably the Clippers’ draft capital since all of it would have to be at least four years into the future.
The 6-foot-5 swingman is averaging 9.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while knocking down 38% of his threes. He would come over in the first year of a two-year, $22 million deal giving a potential new team additional years of control. But, at 26, he is hardly a player that should be the centerpiece for a two-time All-Star at the beginning of his prime.
Some amalgamation of that package might be more commensurate to what the Bulls might expect to get for DeRozan. While he could see a second contract in Chicago, he could also help replenish their assets.
But they would likely need more to let go of their franchise cornerstone in LaVine
“The Bulls would demand star assets back in a trade for Zach LaVine, but he isn’t considered “off the table” by other teams,” wrote Matt Moore of The Action Network ahead of the trade deadline.
Several Teams Linked to Zach LaVine at Trade Deadline
There had been buzz building about teams potentially trying to trade for him since the summer with many of those same teams showing up at the deadline.
“The Lakers, Heat, Knicks, and Mavericks have consistently been mentioned by league personnel as holding motivations to land LaVine if the time does arrive,” notes Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer. “Portland also showed interest in signing LaVine last offseason, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Atlanta loomed as a potential LaVine destination before the Hawks splurged for Dejounte Murray.”
Any one of those teams could come calling this summer if things break the right (or wrong) way.