Bulls’ Zach LaVine Gets Honest About Persistent Trade Rumors

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls

This offseason has been rife with trade rumors surrounding Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine.

The two-time All-Star has been mentioned in connection to several teams as the Bulls have gauged his trade value around the league.

“It is always rumors,” LaVine said per Ryan Taylor of NBC Sports Chicago on July 13. “I’ve been with the Bulls for seven years. I’ve had my name in trade talks. You don’t love it, but you understand the business. I’ve been traded before, so you understand it.”

Chicago traded Jimmy Butler and the draft rights to big man Justin Patton to the Minnesota Timberwolves for LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkenen in 2017. Both players have played elsewhere since then, joining forces in Utah with the Jazz this past season, while LaVine is the longest-tenured player on the Bulls’ roster.

Now on his third head coach with the Bulls in Billy Donovan, LaVine is heading into the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract.

He shook off a slow start to finish strong.

He holds the Bulls’ franchise records for most three-pointers taken (544) and made (204) in a single season which he set in 2022-23. But he has only been a part of one playoff victory in five tries leaving many, perhaps even the Bulls, wanting more.

LaVine made a brief foray into unrestricted free agency last summer creating a bit of a buzz that he could leave the Bulls with whom there has always been some level of contention after his restricted free agency in 2018. Yet he returned to Chicago rather quickly, agreeing to the richest contract in franchise history without so much as taking one visit with any other teams.

The list of potential suitors was just as long then as it is said to be now but that doesn’t mean that LaVine is eyeing or even expecting a trade.

“I always rep my city whichever team I’m playing for to the best,” LaVine said, per Taylor. “And Chicago’s loved me and called me one of their own since I’ve been there. I don’t see anything happening anytime soon. But if it does, Chicago always has my love.”

Bulls Not Looking to Give Zach LaVine Away

LaVine expressed similar sentiments about Chicago having his heart when the signed the contract and it is that sort of loyalty that has led to the guard feeling perturbed by the persistence of the rumors.

At the same time, many of the same reports on trade chatter note the Bulls have maintained a high asking price.

“One league source said the Bulls would be focused on getting a good young player, multiple first-round picks, and salary filler if they decide to trade LaVine,” wrote NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson on June 19. “Another said one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”

The Bulls have not found any teams willing to meet their asking price.

Whether that’s by design and they set an astronomically high asking price relative to the market knowing there most likely would not be any takers or not is unknown. They could show how much faith they have in him.

And, if a team did bite, a potential deal would be easier to sell to potentially angry fans as too good to pass up.

Mixed Signals on Bulls’ Plans

Publicly, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has pushed a theme of continuity for two consecutive offseasons. But trade rumors surrounding LaVine began popping up in earnest around the trade deadline, and some around the league believed the Bulls were ready to go in a different direction.

“I…heard from an insider that he believes the Bulls are done with this Big Three,” reported Sam Smith of Bulls.com in his weekly mailbag on May 19.

Far from definitive insight but it does fit with the rumors surrounding LaVine.

The last few years have been marred by postseason disappointment, imperfect on-court chemistry with DeMar DeRozan, and clashes with Donovan. But, at least on LaVine’s part, nothing else would seem to be pushing him out the door.