Two-time NBA All-Star Zach LaVine stands to make a lot of money this offseason. The Chicago Bulls guard has taken major leaps forward over the last four seasons as he’s averaged over 20 points per game and separated himself from just being a two-time slam dunk contest winner.
What also makes LaVine such a valuable talent is he showed this past season that he can still put up the same numbers as he has for the last few seasons while taking a back seat to another top scorer — in DeMar DeRozan — and be a key part of a winning team.
The only issue for the 27-year-old star heading into the biggest pay bump of his career is the left knee issues he has developed over the last few years. In 2017 he had surgery on the joint, and then he had a non-contact injury to it in January. The issue would end up badly hindering him for the rest of the season and he’ll need offseason arthroscopic surgery.
As he heads into a life-altering NBA free agent journey, let’s take a look at four likely landing spots for Zach LaVine this summer.
Atlanta Hawks get Trae Young some help
As absurdly talented a scorer as Trae Young is, the NBA world saw during the 2022 NBA Playoffs that the Atlanta Hawks star really needs a talented wingman. Despite playing a Miami Heat team sans superstar Jimmy Butler, the Hawks were still eliminated in Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series. It was a disappointing end to a season that did not deliver on the promise this group showed in reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020-2021.
The team’s second-leading scorer this season was Jason Collins at 16.2 points per game. That is just not going to cut it. Young needs more help and a legitimate scorer like LaVine would take a lot of the load away from Young and give him easier buckets. A Young-LaVine duo could very well become the Eastern Conference version of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
Portland Trailblazers fill the CJ McCollum scoring void
After trading CJ McCollum before the trade deadline, the Portland Trailblazers lost a lot of their offensive punch. Superstar Damian Lillard being out for the end of the season after abdominal surgery didn’t help either. The team is in the midst of a rebuild but the Lillard-McCollum combo did help bring Portland back to prominence. That wasn’t a broken situation that needed to be fixed, but one that just needed fresh and different parts.
Combining LaVine and Lillard would surely make the Trailblazers a force once again, but this time around the organization needs to try a different strategy with how they build around another talented backcourt.
Charlotte Hornets trade Gordon Hayward for Zach LaVine
The Charlotte Hornets already have a very solid nucleus with LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges. However, Gordon Hayward seems to be the odd man out in this equation. The Hornets need to move him and the Bulls might be a good fit since Chicago would prefer to get something instead of losing LaVine for nothing in free agency.
A starting lineup of LaVine, Ball, and Bridges could be dynamite. If Rozier was then moved to the bench, the Hornets would have a serious six-man-of-the-year candidate. However, if Rozier had to be moved as well to make a Hayward trade work, then they could afford to lose him too to land the talented LaVine.
Dallas Mavericks finally get a legit secondary star
Similar to the Atlanta Hawks and Trae Young, the Dallas Mavericks need to get Luka Doncic some help. They could choose to pay free agent Jalen Brunson and hope to pair him with Doncic for years to come. However, LaVine is a proven All-Star while Brunson is a player with potential that still has much to show as a night-in and night-out starter.
A LaVine-Doncic combo would be a better fit in the starting lineup and have the youth and talent to eventually usurp the thrown of the best backcourt in the west from Curry and Thompson.