Just when I thought we were in store for a boring extended offseason in Chicago, reports trickle out about a possible Boylen return and some external interest in a possible (what’s that!?) Zach LaVine trade.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, both the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are keeping a close eye on the status of Zach LaVine with respect to the Bulls’ long-term plans. With a new front office in the house and free agency approaching a couple years down the line, Begley speculates that LaVine could be moved sometime in the near future. To be fair, Begley is not reporting that either team has picked up the phone to call upon LaVine’s services, but rather that they’re “monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago.”
Honestly, the best way to understand exactly what has been reported is to just read the darn thing:
And it’s worth noting that both the Knicks and the Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago. Per SNY sources, both teams have done background work on LaVine to be prepared for the possibility that Chicago ends up listening to trade offers on the 25-year-old guard.
Now, one has to ask, would the Bulls even entertain offers for LaVine? Well, at the end of last season, the answer was no. In fact, we learned the Bulls wouldn’t even pick up the phone to entertain offers on the border-line All-Star, which isn’t really good practice. Technically, every single player should be theoretically available for the right price, but that’s old news. And in any case, we’re now dealing with an entirely new front office, and under those circumstances, to say anyone on a roster that just won 22 games is “untouchable” would be egregiously counterproductive.
Still, we’ve gotten no indication that the Bulls would move on from LaVine anytime soon. He remains under contract until 2022, and, considering his production, the $19.5 million he’s making per year might as well be considered a steal. Also, it’s been reported recently that new front-office leader Arturas Karnisovas has involved LaVine in the decision-making process, which presumably means they value his presence. Of course, those are all reasons his trade value would be high elsewhere, to say nothing of how much more of an impact he can have on another team where he doesn’t have to be the guy.
With that said, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson added to that former point this morning, tweeting that LaVine had a positive visit with the new regime two weeks ago and that a focus for the 2020-21 season is to maximize roster potential.
It’s early. But LaVine came to Chicago 2 weeks ago for positive visit with new regime and voluntary workouts at Advocate Center. And while teams always listen, new regime initially has been focused more on maximizing roster potential in advance of uncertain 20/21, ‘21 cap space. https://t.co/YaGOsHGUxD
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 24, 2020
None of this means LaVine (or the Bulls, for that matter) will not get antsy. With not a single winning season in his career, LaVine must be eager to turnaround his fate – especially in the midst of his prime years. Who’s to say keeping Boylen as head coach will not push LaVine toward demanding a trade (after all, if he thinks he can end up playing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, why wouldn’t he?)? Or what if Karnisovas decides to blow things up and grab extra assets by trading his most valuable piece? These questions are exactly why we the Nets and Knicks (among other teams, which shouldn’t go unnoticed) are keeping a close eye on the Chicago Bulls situation.
In general, I don’t know how to feel about this just yet. I still think LaVine has a lot of potential, and there is a world where Karnisovas and Eversley build properly with him in mind (not around him). On the other hand, a team might be desperate enough to offer a pretty major return, and you can’t just ignore that.
Begley shared some of the assets the Knicks and Nets have in his latest report, and it’s certainly enough to spark intrigue:
The Knicks have seven first-round picks over the next four drafts and some young players who are attractive to opposing teams. The Nets have young players on team-friendly contracts (Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen among them) and are believed to be in the market to trade for a top player to play alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The New York Daily New previously reported that the Nets had internal discussions about Beal, a player who can test free agency as early as 2022. You can add LaVine to the list of players that they are monitoring.
For the time being, a LaVine trade feels unlikely, and I wouldn’t think too long or hard about it. Begley’s report does show us though that there is active interest around the league for LaVine and – possibly more importantly – teams seem to think the Bulls could be in the market to make moves in the near future. Both are undoubtedly things to keep an eye on over the next couple of months.
You can read the full report from Begley here:
SNY sources: the Knicks and Nets are among teams who have done background work on Zach LaVine and are monitoring his situation in Chicago in case LaVine asks the Bulls for a trade ahead of his free agency. More here: https://t.co/3zXe7Ek82H
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 24, 2020