The Zach LaVine reports are only going to snowball in the coming weeks. With that being the case, I’d say we’re officially on Zach LaVine Watch!
I don’t know how many of these we’ll do, but I think it’ll be the best way to provide some updates without bombarding your timeline with too many solo LaVine articles (we’re already there).
Zach LaVine to the Lakers?
For well over a year now, West Coast native Zach LaVine has seen his name tied to the Los Angeles Lakers. The organization seemingly has the urge to add a third star next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
LaVine’s perimeter shotmaking and explosive off-ball scoring capabilities are a natural fit, which is why Jovan Buha of The Athletic reiterated that the Lakers still have a genuine interest in trading for LaVine. And that’s not the only Bulls players they’d like to get their hands on.
“The Lakers’ interest in LaVine is real — at the right price. However, LaVine’s potential availability also hints at the possibility of a fire sale in Chicago, with the organization seemingly looking to finally pivot away from its longstanding mediocrity. If additional Bulls players become available, the Lakers would also have interest in DeMar DeRozan and/or former Laker Alex Caruso, according to multiple team sources.”
As Buha goes on to discuss – and as I also outlined in our post the other day – the Lakers may not be the most enticing trade partner for Chicago. Not only are they limited on future draft capital, but Chicago would potentially have to take on future salary to get a deal done. Indeed, the early assumption is that players like D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura would have to be involved to make the money work. Russell has a player option for $18.7 million next while, while Hachimura just signed a three-year, $51 million deal this offseason. I can’t imagine the Bulls are too interested in absorbing those dollars.
There is also a question of whether or not they’re high on the Lakers’ young talent. The organization selected Jalen Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 pick in the 2023 draft. Max Christie is another 20-year-old guard who has shown some brief flashes over his first two seasons in the league. But, again, is either an attractive enough asset?
I’ve also seen some fans throw Austin Reaves’ name out there – who has taken a step back to begin the season after a breakout year – but Buha reported that LA is not interested in trading their emerging wing.
Lastly, let’s not forget that a large chunk of the league can not be traded until Dec. 15. We wrote all about that after the LaVine news broke, and the Lakers are in an even stickier situation. Buha reminds us that both Reaves and Hachimura can’t be moved until Jan. 15, which means the Bulls could have to go nearly two whole months with LaVine on the block before the Lakers could present their best offer. I have to imagine a lot of other teams recognize that, too, which could mean they try to get something done before the Lakers can get heavily involved.
Could the Knicks Get Involved?
The Knicks have a lot of good assets, so I’d love nothing more than for them to pick up the phone and give the Chicago Bulls a call. Unfortunately, immediate reports indicate that LaVine’s camp wouldn’t be happy about this outcome.
The New York Post’s Stefan Bondy reported that LaVine’s camp has reiterated as recently as this week that they would prefer he doesn’t end up in the Big Apple. Of course, we use “reiterated” because this report has already been out there for a little while. As the trade rumors picked up over the summer, Bondy wrote in June that Leon Rose’s long-standing connection to CAA has kept LaVine’s agency, Klutch, from wanting to work with the executive.
Anyway, here’s a brief snippet from our article from back in June …
I’m just not sure why New York wouldn’t be an appealing destination for someone like him. It’s another big market that is currently coming off a top-5 finish in the East. Perhaps he prefers a trip out West?
I guess it technically doesn’t matter what LaVine’s camp thinks. The Bulls could still decide to get a deal done with the franchise if they wanted to. But I have to imagine a report like this would push the Knicks away from showing interest – if they had any at all – to avoid trouble. Likewise, the Bulls might not want to upset a league powerhouse in Klutch and thus not fully entertain offers.
More in here:
How is LaVine Holding Up?
Zach LaVine has his first opportunity to address the recent gossip on Wednesday afternoon. And he didn’t play coy.
While the two-time All-Star may not have publicly requested a trade, he didn’t deny the report that states both he and the organization are open to finding him a new home. For a look at exactly what he said, you can check out our post from Wednesday here.
As for his first game after the circus … things surely could have gone better. LaVine shot a dismal 2-11 heading into the fourth quarter. It wasn’t until the final few minutes that he finally found a rhythm and nailed a couple of huge 3s to tie up the game. He went just 2-7 at the rim during that performance, bringing him to just 54 percent shooting at the rim this season (which ranks in the 21st percentile), per Cleaning the Glass.
The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry asked LaVine after the game about whether or not the trade talk put any extra weight on his shoulders. LaVine’s reply was simple: “I’ve had the news for three years, Darnell. It’s nothing new to me. It’s just a regular Wednesday.”
I didn’t know a regular Wednesday was shooting 6-16 in a 96-94 loss …