The Los Angeles Lakers are not expected to rest on their laurels amid an inconsistent start to the season.
In light of his report on the Chicago Bulls being more open to finding a trade for two-time All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine, Shams Charania of The Athletic noted the Lakers among a list of potential suitors.
“Teams that are expected to have a level of interest in LaVine I’m told: the Lakers, Heat, and 76ers,” Charania said on “The Rally” on November 14. “The sense around the league is, whether it’s LaVine or [DeMar] DeRozan or both, there could be movement in Chicago sooner than later.”
LaVine, 28, is a West Coast native and lives in Los Angeles during the offseason.
He is averaging 21.9 points on 54.3% true shooting this season. That is the second-lowest mark of his career. He is in Year 2 of a five-year, $215 million contract.
LaVine was mentioned in trade rumors this offseason, and the Lakers were thought to be a possible landing spot when he was a free agent in 2022. The Lakers previously ranked 10th among the betting favorites for potential landing spots for the two-time All-Star, LaVine, per Bovada.
“I’m told teams have begun probing the Bulls on the availability of Zach LaVine,” Charania said. “And I’m told there is increased openness from both LaVine and the Bulls on a trade. Most of the NBA’s general managers are here in Chicago today. That’s where conversations are expected to begin in earnest as the season begins.”
The Bulls are off to a 4-7 start to a season that LaVine has acknowledged is critical.
LaVine was spotted at the United Center alongside agent Rich Paul taking in the game between Kansas and Kentucky.
Lakers Have to Wait for Zach LaVine Trade
If the Lakers are in on a trade for LaVine – whose representation has strong ties to the organization as it is – they had better hope no other team swoops in with an offer that meets the Bulls’ asking price before they can.
The Lakers have several players whose salaries would work for matching purposes. D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt could all be of interest to the Bulls. But none of them are eligible to be traded until December since they signed contracts this past offseason.
By then, either or both of the Bulls and Lakers could have turned a corner, rendering all of the speculation moot.
Lakers Could Try Poaching Bulls’ Other Star
If the Bulls’ asking price for LaVine is too high for the Lakers’ blood, they could turn their attention to DeMar DeRozan. He has been the better player over the last two seasons and remains effective even in his 15th NBA season. He is 34 years old, however. And he dealt with a lower-body injury that sapped some of his effectiveness last season.
His injury history is not as extensive or severe as LaVine’s, though. And DeRozan thought he was going to be a Laker in 2021 before being sign-and-traded to the Bulls.
Be it LaVine or DeRozan, there could be an opportunity for the Lakers to capitalize on the Bulls’ struggles via trade. It might not come cheap. But the Lakers are in title-chasing mode with LeBron James in the twilight of his career.