After pondering a trade for Zach LaVine in February, the Chicago Bulls could decide to move on from the star guard this summer, and there certainly won’t be a lack of interested teams if they do.
The Chicago Bulls 2022-2023 campaign was a major disappointment. After showing so much promise last season and making the NBA Playoffs, they struggled to hover near .500 and were unable to secure a spot in the postseason through the NBA Play-In tournament. The disaster that was this season could likely be blamed on two issues.
The first was the fact that point guard Lonzo Ball missed the entire season and his loss hampered the team on both sides of the ball. The second was a schism that developed between Zach LaVine and head coach Billy Donovan. It got to a point where rumors began to circulate that the majority of the locker room was siding with their coach in the developing drama between the two.
It is why the Chicago Bulls reportedly heard trade offers for his services in February. Obviously, a deal never occurred, but that doesn’t mean it won’t occur this summer. With rumors that Ball’s career could be over the organization may feel that combo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan isn’t a long-term answer for the team and the 28-year-old needs to be the odd man out.
If the Bulls do trade the two-time All-Star these four teams would be the strongest contenders to acquire him in the offseason.
New York Knicks
The Knicks were linked to a trade for Zach LaVine in February and the interest likely hasn’t diminished since. New York was impressive in the playoffs but they clearly need a third star with RJ Barrett not taking steps forward after getting a massive extension last summer.
RJ Barrett and first-round picks could appeal to a Bulls organization looking to shake up the roster. Plus, including Barrett in a deal would be a necessity to make the money side of the deal work.
Among the lottery teams, the Orlando Magic and rookie of the year Paolo Banchero showed the most upside this season. They have solid pieces on the roster, but clearly need a veteran star to make them a playoff contender in 2023-2024. While they have two first-round picks in June, Zach LaVine would be a perfect fit and give them the scoring from the backcourt that they desperately need.
- Zach LaVine stats (’22-’23): 24.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 38% 3PT
If the Bulls are looking to shake things up, two first-round picks this month could certainly be an intriguing route for next season and the long term.
The Houston Rockets are looking to be a playoff team next season and are expected to be major players in NBA free agency. However, top prospect and former first-round pick, Jalen Green, is reportedly available in a trade. If they do sign Harden — which has long been rumored — they then have the money to swap Green and their top pick for LaVine and take on his contract, and then have a combo that gets them back to the playoffs in 2024.
After breaking down their roster and shipping off their two top stars — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — in February, the Brooklyn Nets are expected to be aggressive this summer to remain a competitive team in 2023-2024. While Mikal Bridges is untouchable, every other player on the roster could be paired up with their many draft assets in a deal for Zach LaVine.
On paper, a Bridges and LaVine combo could be quite formidable in the years ahead and mean the Nets won’t fall right back into a years-long rebuild.