Mavs Eliminated, Don’t Remind Me of LaVine’s Winning Percentage, A Bad Trade Idea, and Other Bulls Bullets

Fun Fact: Michael Jordan played four Finals games over his career on June 7th, winning all four of them. One of those victories even came despite the following historic performance from the Utah Jazz in 1998. 

My brain still has a hard time comprehending this game. The score sat at a normal 17-14 after the first quarter, but then the Bulls went on to outscore the Jazz 79-37 over the remaining three quarters. Not only was Utah at full strength, but Michael Jordan had himself a pretty average night with just 24 points on 7-14 shooting (10-11 from the charity stripe). And while the series didn’t go the length, it at least went six games with all of the remaining five contests finishing with no fewer than a six-point margin of victory. This was truly one of the most elite off-nights for a team we have ever seen. Maybe they ate some of that famous Salt Lake City pizza beforehand!

•   The second round of the playoffs is set. Despite another massive performance from Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks fell to Kawhi Leonard and Co. in Game 7. The Clippers will now go on to battle the Utah Jazz for a shot at the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will join several other early-exit playoff teams in discussing how to proceed. Those discussions are bound to center around upgrading the supporting cast and the future of Kristaps Prozingis. The 7’3″ unicorn has struggled to stay healthy, and he also isn’t very happy with his current role.

•   The good news for Prozingis is the Mavericks might be totally fine sending him elsewhere after an underwhelming season. The bad news for Prozingis, and Mark Cuban, is that he has one of the most difficult contracts to move. The big man is owed an absurd $101.5 million over the next three seasons. Is it possible he returns to his old All-Star self? Of course, he’s only 25-years-old, but that doesn’t mean taking on that kind of salary would not be a huge risk.

•   Now, if the Mavs were to somehow find a new home for Prozingis, maybe it would actually open the door for Lauri Markkanen to get his wish. The big man has reportedly had an interest in playing with Doncic (who doesn’t?), and he could be a cheaper 3-point shooting big man to replace Prozingis. Also, hey, if a sign-and-trade could work out where the Mavericks hand the Bulls someone like Jalen Brunson … I wouldn’t really be complaining.

•   HoopyHype decided to blindside me with sadness this morning by sharing the players with the worst winning percentages in NBA history. Thanks to Zach LaVine’s stints with the rebuilding T-Wolves and Bulls, the All-Star ranks 29th with only a 31.87 win percentage. As the record basically indicates, LaVine has yet to experience a winning season in his six seasons in the league. The best year he had (record-wise) was this past season when Chicago finished 31-41.

•   Fortunately, all it should really take is one winning season to get LaVine out of this dreadful list. Fans can only hope that season comes in 2021-22 after an offseason of roster upgrades and a full season of All-Star Nikola Vucevic.

•   Speaking of roster upgrades, Bleacher Report presented a pretty bad one. The site pitched an imaginary trade that sends Kemba Walker to the Bulls in exchange for Coby White, Tomas Satoransky, and Al-Farouq Aminu. If you just woke up after sleeping through the past six months, this might sound like a possible steal, especially with no draft compensation involved. However, Walker took a sizable step backward this season. He only played 43 games due to a concerning and lingering knee injury, and he averaged his fewest points per game since the 2014-15 season. Also, while Walker was/is a gifted offensive player, he wouldn’t necessarily give the Bulls the facilitating prowess they seem to desire. Who knows, maybe Walker returns to his old form, but the concerns for his knee, and the roughly 73.6 million he is owed over the next two seasons (player option in 2022-23 for $37.6 million), has made him an undesirable player. In fact, according to The Athletic’s Jared Weiss, several front offices currently view Walker as having a “negative” trade value. Yikes.

•   Not basketball, but this was awesome.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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