By Tommy Matthews
The Sixers have been linked to the Bulls’ Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso in trade rumors ever since they got a boatload of assets back from the Clips for James Harden.
However, other teams are more interested in Alex Caruso or DeMar DeRozan, while the Chicago Bulls want to get a LaVine trade done first before moving on to other potential deals. LaVine and the Bulls are ready to part ways, with LaVine preferring to go to the Heat, 76ers, or Lakers if dealt.
The problem is the Bulls are finding a lukewarm market for LaVine with those three and around the league.
ESPN’s insider Adrian Wojnarowski has weighed in on that during NBA Today.
“There is not a market for Zach LaVine right now in the NBA. That’s not because Chicago has not tried to find it, and aren’t currently trying to find it. It’s a combination of a few reasons: LaVine’s contract — four more years at around a $45-46 million a year average — but his productivity… I think the question for teams is, ‘How much does Zach LaVine impact winning?’ Especially at the salary and with a new salary cap, where you’re asking yourself, ‘Are we trading for him to be our best player?’ No. ‘Our second-best player?’ No. So, if he’s our third-best player, do we want to pay that kind of money?”
LaVine is an All-Star, an Olympian, an elite isolation scorer averaging 21 points and 4.9 rebounds a game, and is a career 38.2% shooter from 3. He’s been slowed by a foot injury recently, but teams know what and who LaVine is — he doesn’t bring defense or the reputation of a guy willing to do the little things to win.
Combine those concerns with LaVine making $40 million this year and having three years, $138 million on the books beyond this year, and teams are hesitant to make a big offer for LaVine. The offers the Bulls are seeing right now they consider lowball.
Chicago is betting on that changing and the market changing between now and the February trade deadline. The Bulls are being patient and not taking calls about DeRozan or Caruso yet, although it feels more likely one of them could be traded for value at the deadline. The Bulls are going to be sellers come February, the question is how many players get traded and for what in return.