The summer of 2023 was rife with Miami Heat trade rumors, of course, as Pat Riley targeted Damian Lillard as its big offseason acquisition. Or perhaps it is better to say Lillard targeted the Heat, because Riley was only mildly interested in a deal in the end. Either way, the Miami Heat trade rumor mill is back up and running, and now comes a new target: Bulls wing Zach LaVine.
According to The Athletic NBA insider Shams Charania, LaVine could be Miami-bound. Or, at least, there is interest from the Heat in a LaVine trade.
With a gathering of GMs happening in Chicago this week as the college basketball season gets underway, Charania reports, Zach LaVine is a hot topic of conversation.
“NBA teams are probing the availability of two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine, and there’s been increased openness from the Chicago Bulls and LaVine about exploring a trade, league sources said.
“Many of the NBA’s 30 general managers are in Chicago on Tuesday for the annual Champions Classic, the major opening night of the college basketball season, and this is where conversations could begin. The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are expected to have a level of interest, league sources said,” he wrote on Tuesday.
Miami Heat Trade Rumors Will Descend on Zach LaVine
Figure on Zach LaVine, then, to be the subject of Miami Heat trade rumors from now until the deadline for deals arrives in February. There is logic behind the Heat having interest in such a move, of course. LaVine is an ace scorer and two-time All-Star who has blossomed in recent years. He averaged 27.4 points per game in 2020-21, and has willingly sacrificed his offense since the Bulls brought DeMar DeRozan aboard in 2021-22.
Still, LaVine has averaged 24.6 points with 4.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds in his last two seasons, and has done so efficiently, making 48.1% of his shots and 38.1% of his 3-pointers. He is a versatile and talented offensive player, and whenever a player like that arises, he will be linked to the Heat via rumors.
But LaVine also is in the second year of a $215 million contract. He is slated to be paid $179 million over the next four seasons, which is a hefty amount for a star player who has taken his team to the playoffs once in nine seasons, and was swept when the team got there.
Heat’s Paths to a Blockbuster
There would be, essentially, three paths to a trade of Zach LaVine to the Heat.
First, the Heat could offer Duncan Robinson, who has been resurgent in the early going this year, and veteran guard Kyle Lowry. The Bulls could add another player to that mix to level the salaries and keep themselves below the luxury-tax threshold, but those maneuvers would probably involve a third team.
Second, frequent Miami Heat trade rumor denizen Tyler Herro could be brought back to the fore. If Herro were packaged with Robinson, a deal could get done.
Third, the Heat could package Herro with a trove of young players—Caleb Martin, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and forward Nikola Jovic. That would also fit into NBA trade rules.
Now, the Bulls would likely most prefer Option 3, with three rebuilding pieces, plus Martin, coming back for LaVine. They’d insist, too, on draft picks. From the Bulls’ perspective, LaVine is a star and they should get a star return. This is a star return.
The Heat would prefer something like Option 1, with Lowry’s expiring contract shipped out and perhaps a pair of draft picks added. From Miami’s perspective, LaVine is a weighty contract that the Bulls want to dump, and the Heat should not have to give up too much to take on others’ bad contracts. They took this approach in dealing with both Lillard and four years ago, with Chris Paul.
The second option is probably the fairest. But Herro spent a lot more time in Miami Heat trade rumors last year than he did on the actual trade block. Would they move him for LaVine? It’s possible.
But as we saw with the Lillard deal, these things sometimes drag out for weeks and months.