The interest for Zach Lavine in the trade market is starting to rise, but so is the Chicago Bulls own interest in keeping him around.
All recent signs pointed to new front-office leader Arturas Karnisovas holding onto a surging Zach LaVine as the Bulls head toward the trade deadline. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported that he didn’t expect LaVine to come available despite the loads of speculation and intrigue around the league. And if anything, he expects the team to consider moving LaVine ONLY if it were in some kind of package for a superstar.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick has almost paralleled those comments in a recent article about ongoing trade rumors around the league. He wrote that, along with Bradley Beal and Aaron Gordon, NBA executives are not expecting LaVine to become available ahead of the March 25th deadline.
Until [Michael] Porter Jr. finds a way to meet the lofty expectations they’ve placed upon him consistently, the temptation will always be there for the Nuggets to make a move for a more proven commodity. The pursuit of players like Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine or Aaron Gordon could unfold down the line if they become available, though rival executives don’t expect them to be available before this deadline. Sources say, however, that the Nuggets’ focus at the moment is on improving this group as it’s currently constructed.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily tell us anything that we didn’t know already, but the more reports we see like this, the more our speculation can turn away from a potential return and toward LaVine’s future in Chicago. With him making his best case for an All-Star nod yet and improving his game in a number of areas, LaVine has put himself in the running for a massive third contract. If the Bulls are willing to keep LaVine off the trade market as he assents toward this new peak (where his return value would be an all-time high), then it must indicate some level of confidence in LaVine’s ability to be a cornerstone piece for this front office’s new era.
At the same time, I don’t expect any of this trade talk to go away any time soon. LaVine is still under an extremely reasonable and valuable contract with Chicago for one more year before hitting unrestricted free agency, which means the Bulls have plenty of time to continue their evaluation of him as a foundational piece. Is it possible they reverse course and do look for a suitable trade partner some time over the next two seasons? We can’t rule it out.
The only other takeaway from Amick’s report that could be worth a note is the Nuggets potential interest in LaVine. This was Karnisovas’ long-time home before taking over the Bulls, so one has to wonder if that would make negotiations any easier to pull off. Likewise, I’m curious if Karnisovas might be even higher than others on a promising young player like Michael Porter Jr. since he played a role in drafting the 22-year-old back in 2018. It’s something to think about if LaVine trade rumors do ever gain significant steam.
For now, though, things continue to trend away from the path that ultimately separates LaVine and the Bulls. That’s cool with me!
Check out Amick’s full report below:
Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, Aaron Gordon, Harrison Barnes – are any of these talented players that teams would love to get their hands on available? That and much more on the early NBA trade front here, at @TheAthletic https://t.co/w8RKlwTIoi
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 12, 2021