Proposed Trade Swaps Bulls’ Zach LaVine for Rival’s $224 Million Franchise Cornerstone

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.

Rumors of the Chicago Bulls being ready to make “significant changes” to this current group floated around the 2023 NBA Draft Combine, per writer Sam Smith.

But their limited draft capital could lead them down a more “creative” route, to borrow a phrase from Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas who acknowledged as much during his exit interview on April 15.

As such, the Minnesota Timberwolves could make for a suitable trade partner.

This proposal from Dan Favale of Bleacher Report in a May 20 article identifying ‘ambitious offseason trades could help both sides balance out their respective rosters a bit better and give the stars involved fresh starts.

Bulls get:

Karl-Anthony Towns
Taurean Prince

Timberwolves get:

Zach LaVine
Alex Caruso

“Minnesota is pot committed to Rudy Gobert at center, and the team belongs to Anthony Edwards offensively,” Favale wrote. “the Wolves’ future may have too low of a ceiling with two players whose best position is center combining to make $77 million next year and $92.5 million in 2024-25.”

Chicago could also look to include LaVine’s former college teammate, Kyle Anderson, in place of Prince.

The cost of this team goes far beyond just the four-year, $224-plus million contract extension Towns signed that kicks in this coming season. Or even the remaining $131.5 million (over three years) on Gobert’s five-year, $205 million pact.

Minnesota also sent five unprotected first-round picks, a pick swap, and four players to the Utah Jazz for Gobert.

Their commitment to him could mirror that of the Bulls and Nikola Vucevic.

Towns, 27, averaged 20.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists this past season shooting 49.5% from the floor, 36.6% from beyond the arc, and 87.4% at the free throw line.

Potential Cost of Karl-Anthony Towns Trade Revealed

The Bulls’ would certainly be up against many suitors if Towns, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, were to hit the trade block. But their top threat could be the rival New York Knicks who are said to be among the favorites to land Towns if not the favorite, per Heavy Sports NBA insider Sean Deveney.

Deveney also speculated on just what it might take to pry Towns loose from Minnesota and it could keep the Bulls in play.

“League executives say that the Timberwolves may have some interest in adding back some of the draft picks they sent out…for Gobert,” Deveney wrote. “But…Minnesota is more likely focused on bringing back win-now talent with the team going through an ownership change.”

That ownership change is believed to have pushed the trade for Gobert over the top.

A Zach LaVine Return Policy

There are no do-overs on trades in professional sports but this deal would come about as close as possible.

No, the Bulls would not be getting back the indomitable Jimmy Butler. But they would be sending LaVine back to the team that drafted him in No. 13 overall in 2014 and traded him three years later in a deal that sent the now-Miami Heat star to Minnesota.

And getting Towns back is not the worst consolation prize even amid “minimal defensive value and a history of postseason shakiness,” as Favale notes.

LaVine, 28, is heading into the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract after averaging 24.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. The current franchise cornerstone on the richest contract in the organization’s history, moving LaVine would require a significant return.

Caruso, 29, made First-Team All-Defense this past season and is going into the third year of a four-year, $36.9 million deal.

His play and contract combined to make Caruso highly sought after at this year’s trade deadline.