Proposed Trade Sees Bulls Acquire Top-10 Pick, Dynamic Young Scorer

Chicago Bulls

Getty Anfernee Simons #1 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on

Talk of the Chicago Bulls possibly losing Zach LaVine in unrestricted free agency has picked back up in recent days. The latest report opens the possibility that they flip him to an interested team for a top-10 choice in the NBA Draft on June 23.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on the “Hoop Collective” podcast that his read on the situation was that LaVine did not want to leave.

The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry reported a LaVine return was still not a guarantee.

Now, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor’s latest report on offseason chatter shines a light on one Western Conference team’s interest. It comes on the heels of another report that went as far as to suggest a package for the Bulls’ two-time All-Star.

Potential LaVine “Homecoming”

O’Connor’s piece focused heavily on the Utah Jazz and even connected the Bulls to three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. But he also covered the Blazers’ ongoing search for a complementary star.

League sources say the Blazers are exploring trades for veterans who can help Damian Lillard lead the team back to the postseason…Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine are potential targets, according to sources…Though Beal and LaVine present some similar defensive issues as CJ McCollum did next to Lillard, either of them would undeniably make the Blazers better with their shot-creation.

LaVine is from Renton, Washington, some feel as though a return (close) to home would be of interest to him. He did say that he will keep all of his options open in his exit interview.

He is coming off of a season in which he averaged 24.4 points with 4.5 assists while shooting 38.9% from downtown despite being battling through torn thumb ligaments and a knee injury that caused him to miss Game 5 in the Bulls’ first-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The two-time All-Star underwent successful surgery on May 24 and is expected to make a full recovery.

Portland is over two hours away from Renton and over three hours away from Bothell, though. A more appropriate homecoming would be to the Lakers and Los Angeles where the gold medal-winning guard resides in the offseason.

Getting a Deal Done

Trading for LaVine is tricky. But it would be less so for the team acquiring him than it would the Bulls thanks to base year compensation. His new team would be able to work off his new contract number.

The Bulls, however, would only be able to take back half of what the value of his new deal will be worth.

LaVine’s max extension figures to be worth $212 million over the next five years, per Forbes’ Jason Patt.

But O’Connor writes the Blazers can put together any number of intriguing packages that could entice teams in a trade.

They have a $20.8 million trade exception, Eric Bledsoe’s lightly guaranteed contract ($3.9 million), a rising talent in Josh Hart, and future picks. There’s also a potential sign-and-trade with Nurkic, or more drastically, flipping Anfernee Simons, a 22-year-old coming off a career-best season and entering restricted free agency.

Would a package created around Simons, Hart, and the seventh-overall pick along the lines of this proposal from Dave Deckard of Blazer’s Edge whet the Bulls’ whistle? Or would they be better off trying to wrestle away that $20.8 million trade exception to use on another piece?

A Simons-for-LaVine double sign-and-trade would only complicate matters further. But, again, we are operating under the assumption that LaVine would be on his way out.

Chatter Picking up Again

The noise surrounding LaVine had died down following a report from Heavy’s Sean Deveney that said league executives believe his agents at Klutch Sports were responsible. No such claims have been made about these latest rumors, though.

That does add some consternation to what many fans would prefer was a cut and dry process as one of the Bulls’ few major question marks this offseason.

With the draft drawing ever closer, however, this has to be expected.

While it might not be Klutch putting feelers out, it could very well be teams trying to drum up interest in their assets. The Blazers owe the Bulls a first-round pick the next time they make the playoffs so they need to make this pick count with a healthy Lillard.

LaVine could very well have an interest in playing in the Great Northwest. But he is just as likely at this point that he is being used as a veritable pawn in other maneuvers for some teams.

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