The Chicago Bulls‘ resurgence has hit a horrible snag, and it’s time for the team to strongly consider trading Zach LaVine.
LaVine has been fantastic in most games this season, and he’s playing hard every night. Unfortunately, he’s out several games in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. His absence comes at a crucial time.
The Bulls are freefalling and holding on to the 10th and final play-in tournament spot with just 15 games left in the regular season. He’s only missed one game as of Saturday, April 17, but he’ll be out for several more.
The team was already on a four-game losing skid when LaVine went out of the lineup, so his absence isn’t the primary problem. The Bulls are 3-9 since the All-Star break, and that woeful record has come since the team acquired Nikola Vucevic, Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr., and Javonte Green in deadline deals.
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Those moves were supposed to help the Bulls into the postseason, but the team has been worse since the trades. This development should make the Bulls’ brass wonder if they have the right pieces. At this point, can the Bulls afford to look at anyone on their roster besides Patrick Williams as an untouchable?
LaVine is reportedly unlikely to accept a contract extension from the Bulls this offseason. He’ll max out his earning potential by waiting until 2022 to sign a new deal.
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This trade concept we concocted, while painful to Bulls fans who love and appreciate LaVine, takes that into consideration, and it might make Chicago contenders sooner.
Tough Decision to Trade Zach LaVine for a Top-4 Pick and Throw-Ins
We don’t know which teams will win the lottery. If the Bulls miss the postseason and get a pick inside the Top 4, they keep their selection. If it’s anywhere from No. 5 down, it goes to the Orlando Magic as a part of the deal for Vucevic.
No matter where the Bulls’ pick falls, Chicago should strongly consider offering LaVine to the teams with a Top-4 pick. LaVine is a 26-year-old All-Star scoring machine averaging 27.5 points per game. He’s worth at least a Top-4 pick and a player or two on shorter-term deals.
Chicago has to get a lead guard to help push them into the next era, and it’s not Coby White. If Chicago’s luck is up, they could wind up with two Top-4 picks, which would significantly jumpstart a rebuild.
Imagine Chicago heading into the 2021-22 season with Cade Cunningham/Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green to go with Williams, Vucevic, and a forward. The team would be uber young, but it would provide a young nucleus that head coach Billy Donovan could mold. Perhaps even more critical, VP of player personnel Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley can handpick the players instead of trying to make do with the holdovers from the Gar Forman and John Paxson era.
This move and allowing Lauri Markkanen to walk would rid the Bulls of all their huge contracts.
Winning With LaVine isn’t Out of the Question
Trading LaVine isn’t the only approach to improving this team. Chicago could stick with LaVine, Vucevic, and Williams as their core.
Hopefully, with more practice time and some other pieces added, Chicago will see a bit more of what they hoped for when they dealt for Vucevic. Things change quickly, though; A month ago, suggesting the Bulls trade LaVine seemed crazy.
Twelve unimpressive games later, it’s a feasible concept. It would be great to see the Bulls become a winner with LaVine. He deserves it, but Karnisovas and Eversley have to be willing to pivot if that isn’t practical.