Back off Knicks, he’s mine!
After a report surfaced over the summer from the SNY’s Ian Begley that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets were “monitoring” LaVine’s situation in Chicago, we now have a follow-up. According to Begley, the Knicks are still very much interested in getting their hands on the 25-year-old bucket-getter, and they will continue to keep a close eye on how the Bulls handle his rising stock as the trade deadline nears.
Obviously, now that Brooklyn has traded for James Harden, you can count the Nets out on LaVine. But as the 2021 trade deadline approaches, the Knicks are still keeping an eye on LaVine’s situation in Chicago, per SNY sources.
LaVine can be a free agent in 2022. So you can be sure that the Knicks are among many teams monitoring the dynamic between the Bulls and their young star. It’s unclear if Chicago is open to listening to offers on LaVine, who will likely command a max contract as a free agent.
The last sentence there is key. Just like when we first learned of the Knicks’ interest, there is no word on whether or not the Bulls are actually interested in trading LaVine. In fact, if anything, we’ve heard the opposite. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson wrote in his mailbag the other week that the Bulls “aren’t looking to move” LaVine for the time being. Can that change? Of course. But there are no signs that it will at this moment.
Instead, the Bulls seem willing to play out the LaVine surge to see where it goes. The organization is in desperate need of a star, and they don’t want to make the mistake of giving up too soon on a player who continues to show nothing but improvement. At the same time, LaVine is on his way toward a max contract one season from now, which means the Bulls must try to decide just how big of a leap he can take. Do they genuinely believe LaVine can be the cornerstone piece to a consistently competitive team? If not, then a trade at what they assume to be his peak value could be the most beneficial.
And a decision like that is exactly what the Knicks are waiting around for.
If Chicago decided to engage on LaVine trade talks, the Knicks have five first-round picks over the next three drafts, so they can offer the Bulls significant draft capital. The Bulls, you’d think, would seek another young star in return for LaVine.
As Begley pointed out, the Knicks wouldn’t be the worst trade partner. There is no denying that their additional picks over the next few drafts hold some value. However, the Bulls would definitely want a young star back in the package, one they believe would provide more value than LaVine in the long run. Neither Obi Toppin or RJ Barrett – the Knicks most recent lottery picks – feel like super intriguing pieces to build around, so it’s hard to say whether or not the Bulls would actually even view the Knicks as a worthy trade partner.