The Chicago Bulls have a very good situation on their hands with Zach LaVine. He is currently averaging a career high 27.4 points, 5.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. He is doing his damage on 50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 86 percent shooting from the free throw line.
On top of all that – he is currently on a very manageable four-year, $78 million deal. Paying $19.5 million annually for the level of production LaVine is offering is an absolute steal.
The big problem on the horizon for Chicago is that LaVine is on the third leg of a four-year deal. That means it’s this season, next season and then that’s it. Once unrestricted free agency rears its ugly head, the Bulls will need to make the tough decision of whether they want to commit max money to a 27-year-old who probably can’t be a star on a championship-level team. A similar scenario is unfolding out West with the Houston Rockets.
If Chicago determines that LaVine is not a part of the franchise’s long-term future, for whatever reason, trading him now while his value is at an all-time high could prove prudent.
If the Bulls do opt to go that route, two legitimate suitors for LaVine exist.
Those two options: the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks are very much in the hunt for LaVine.
Yikes. Not great. https://t.co/TbKcmHXfyt
— Game 7 (@game7__) February 9, 2021
“But the Knicks coach sounded like he wouldn’t mind reuniting with the current Bulls shooting guard, noting his improvement,” he wrote. “There’s speculation the Bulls would put LaVine on the trading block before he becomes a 2022 free agent. That could be before March’s trade deadline, this summer or at the next trading deadline.
“The Knicks need more scoring and LaVine is a sniper — one of the best dunkers in the NBA. He’s averaging 26.8 points and 5.3 assists. SNY reported over the summer LaVine would be on the Knicks’ radar.”
If not New York, Philly sounds like a viable candidate for LaVine’s services as well.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
“Ending up with the Philadelphia 76ers would be a heavenly outcome for the high-scoring guard,” wrote Dan Favale of Bleacher Report.
“He has improved his playmaking reads but remains overstretched as a No. 1 option tasked with uplifting an entire offense. Philly allows him to hover somewhere between the No. 2 and No. 3 options on any given night.
“This match is equally ideal for the Sixers. Minutes without Joel Embiid are back to being a disaster…Adding LaVine would significantly bolster those stretches. He has the off-the-dribble jumper to anchor bench-heavy lineups on his own; he’s shooting 39.6 percent on pull-up threes.”
Now we know what motivates Gronk to play so hard. https://t.co/xFnKnjoXQ4
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 24, 2021
As things currently stand the Bulls are 9-14 on the year and coming off a humiliating loss to arguably the most pathetic team in the NBA.
Clearly this LaVine-led group, although at times fun to watch, is going nowhere fast. Their move to acquire Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans won’t change that.
The front office could do a lot worse at this juncture than finagle a trade for LaVine that allows them to rebuild properly over the next few years, as opposed to pushing forward with the squad as presently constructed and embracing their inevitable basement-dweller status in the Eastern Conference.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.