With Chicago off to a very disappointing start to their season, Zach LaVine could be on the move.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania wrote on Tuesday that “there’s been increased openness from the organization and player about exploring a trade.” Charania’s co-worker at The Athletic, Darnell Mayberry, added, “one league source told me this week the Bulls won’t have the same roster in a month. Change feels imminent in Chicago.”
LaVine is a two-time All-Star but is in the midst of a down year. He’s averaging 21.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game, but shooting just 40.9 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from 3.
LaVine should recover back to his career norms of 46.3 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from 3. He has had good moments, such as dropping 51 points against the Pistons in the Bulls’ third game of the season. And he’s in his prime at 28 years old.
LaVine has been in trade rumors for a while now. There has been some previous information about what the Bulls might be seeking in return for his services.
A league source told NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson prior to the draft that the team would be seeking “a good young player, multiple first-round picks and salary filler if they decide to trade LaVine. Another said “one first-round pick and an established, high-end player might be sufficiently intriguing.”
Lavine is in the second year of a five-year, $215 million maximum contract which makes salary matching tricky. But there are plenty of teams that could meet the kind of request that the Bulls are seeking, or get close to it. Here are the most likely suitors for LaVine.
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Why it makes sense
The Sixers have the assets to make a move for a star player. One more high-end addition could be enough to make them the favorites over the Celtics. LaVine might be the best one that comes on the market.
LaVine isn’t a perfect fit in Philadelphia. A two-way wing would be better alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. But Daryl Morey has always been about getting the talent in the door and worrying about the fit later.
Tobias Harris’ $39.2 million salary matches up almost perfectly with LaVine’s $40.0 million. Harris for LaVine, plus two first-round picks, would be a great haul for the Bulls.
In lieu of Harris, the Sixers could also aggregate the expiring contracts of Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, and Robert Covington. In going that route, they would have to wait until Dec. 30 to complete the trade.
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Why it makes sense
The Lakers have been in dire need of supporting players to put alongside LeBron James. He’s had to carry way too high of an offensive load this season, averaging 35 minutes per game.
Austin Reaves looks tired after going straight from the Western Conference Finals to the FIBA World Cup. D’Angelo Russell has struggled with shot selection. Gabe Vincent hasn’t been able to hit a shot. Rui Hachimura has played well but missed games due to injury.
The Lakers could really use the scoring punch that LaVine brings to juice up their No. 25 offense. And LaVine’s defensive issues could be mitigated with a rim protector like Anthony Davis. LaVine went to school at UCLA, so it would be a return back to Los Angeles for him.