Lakers, East Contender Expected Suitors for $215 Million Star: Insider

Darvin Ham, Rob Pelinka, Lakers

Getty Head coach Darvin Ham (L) and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers talk before a preseason game.

Fresh off winning the NBA Cup, the Los Angeles Lakers are still doing their due diligence for their expected pursuit of Chicago Bulls‘ two-time All-Star Zach LaVine.

“The Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers are expected suitors for LaVine, but both are operating from positions of patience and due diligence,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday, December 11.

The Bulls have won four straight games without LaVine, who is out to treat his right foot inflammation. The high-flying wing could miss three to four weeks.

The Lakers are among NBA teams monitoring his health situation. The 10-year veteran has only played more than 70 games in just three seasons and only once over the last seven years. They are also wary of the potential fallout of a LaVine trade, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

“The sense around the league is that the Lakers are wary of boosting their weak half (offense) at the expense of their defense (and their cap sheet) in any potential LaVine deals,” Lowe wrote on December 8.

LaVine is in the second season of a $215 million, five-year max extension he signed with the Bulls last year. The Bulls are having buyer’s remorse following their slow start. The Bulls hitting their strides with LaVine out only bolsters their confidence to part ways with him.

The 28-year-old LaVine is under Klutch Sports, which also represents Lakers superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis along with role players Cam Reddish and Jarred Vanderbilt.

LaVine, a 38.2% career 3-point shooter will immediately help the Lakers, who are averaging a league-worst 10.2 3s per game on 26th ranked 34.3% shooting clip. The Lakers’ vision is for LaVine to become their third star behind James and Davis. But his durability and defense are big question marks on top of his enormous contract.

Anthony Davis’ Shaq-Like Game

Davis’ monster performance — 41 points, 20 rebounds, five assists and four blocks — led the Lakers to win the inaugural NBA Cup championship over the Indiana Pazcers, 123-109 on Saturday, December 9, in Las Vegas.

LeBron James called his performance “Shaq-like,” referring to Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal.

“Absolutely, that was a Shaq-like dominant performance,” James said of Davis. “And we had the big fella (O’Neal) sitting down there by our bench. So, I think [Davis] was inspired. … AD was just dominant. Big time [performance]!”

Davis scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter that put the game away. During his personal run, he let out a scream, saying “I’m him!”

Shaq Wants to Join Lakers Star’s Vegas Venture

O’Neal hopes to team up with James in bringing NBA to the Sin City.

“If there’s ever an NBA team that’s going to come here, I would definitely like to be involved,” O’Neal told The Messenger’s Arash Markazi.  “With LeBron, without LeBron, I just want to be involved.”

James, who turns 39 on December 30, plans to own an NBA expansion team in Las Vegas after he retires.

“My enthusiasm about being here post-career has not changed,” James said after the NBA Cup victory. “The fans are amazing here. Like I said, they have everything here already — WNBA team, baseball team, NFL, hockey teams. F1 was just here over Thanksgiving.”

“It’s a place that you love, great attractions and I think the NBA will be another great addition to the city. Obviously, we see the success with the [NBA] Summer League and things of that nature and the Aces as well. So it would be fun!”