LaVar Ball is back in the news, this time for his prediction about what the Los Angeles Lakers will do this summer.
In a May 18 interview with David Kaplan, Ball said Zach LaVine will leave the Chicago Bulls this offseason and sign with the Lakers. LaVine is an unrestricted free agent and has the same agent as LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“He’s gone,” Ball said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “They’re gonna love him in LA. It started off, ‘Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine.’ OK, now you’re hurt. Few things happen. And guess who’s doing all the big plays? All I hear is DeMar (DeRozan). He (LaVine) doesn’t want to play second fiddle.
“And who doesn’t want to go to LA? (If) he (LaVine) wants to go back to the west coast, he’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m from (Seattle)’. … If he got a chance to go there? I guarantee you he ain’t no fool. Because he’s like this: ‘I’m in LA, even when I get paid, I know I can do some commercials or something.'”
LaVine would be the third option with the Lakers behind James and Davis. The Bulls guard once said he would love to play with James during All-Star weekend. LaVine also recently revealed that he plans to “enjoy free agency.”
LaVine Talks Free Agency
LaVine said he is going to stay “open-eyed” when asked if the Bulls were the leader in the clubhouse to sign him in April. The two-time All-Star and two-time Slam Dunk champion stated that free agency is a “big decision” for him and his family and he intends to “look at everything” available to him.
LaVine, James and Davis are represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
“It’s a big decision, not just for me, but for my family,” LaVine said. “Obviously, I’m going to take my time and look into everything, talk with my agent. I think it’s an opportunity not a lot of people in my situation actually get to get to and I think it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.
“I plan to enjoy free agency with what it is as a whole. I think you’re going to have to experience A-Z without making any fast decisions. I think that’s something that me and Rich get to go through and experience. … I don’t think I’m going to have to be in negotiations. They’re going to have to talk to Rich. For me, I get to sit back and figure it out from that point.”
LaVine can sign a five-year deal worth about $200 million with the Bulls or a four-year contract worth around $160 million with another team this offseason. He averaged 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 2021-22.
However, LaVine will undergo left knee surgery soon. It’s the same knee he tore his left ACL in during the 2016-17 season.
For the Lakers to acquire LaVine, they would have to complete a sign-and-trade deal with the Bulls since they don’t have the cap space to sign the UCLA product outright. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report believes it’s possible for the purple and gold to pair LaVine with James and Davis.
However, it will take a lot of work.
How Can Lakers Get LaVine from Bulls?
According to Pincus, there are a few ways for the Lakers to acquire LaVine from the Bulls. However, each route is “very difficult.”
“Los Angeles would need to trade Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn (expected to opt in at $5.3 million) and Westbrook without bringing back salary. Subsequently, assuming LaVine would take a sizable discount to fit into space the Lakers aren’t likely to have is nonsense,” Pincus wrote. “The only real solution would be a sign-and-trade, which presents different issues, most notably an approximate $155.7 million hard spending limit for the 2022-23 season. With just James, Davis and LaVine under contract, the Lakers would only have $36.6 million to flesh out the remainder of the roster. Keeping Westbrook and his $47.1 million is a non-starter.
“Even if Chicago were open to a one-to-one swap of LaVine for (Russell) Westbrook (unlikely), the math wouldn’t work. With LaVine getting a significant raise, his outgoing trade value to the Bulls would be his 2021-22 salary of $19.5 million—$18.1 million short in contracts to match for Westbrook.”
LaVine made $19,500,000 in 2021-22. He was 12th in the NBA in points per game.