Zach LaVine has been hounded by trade rumors and speculation for most of his time in Chicago, and it has significantly ramped up in the last three years amid his struggles and lack of success as a team. Whenever this subject was brought to the surface with LaVine before this morning’s shootaround, he’s always met the question with the same response: if it didn’t come from his mouth, it’s not a reliable source. This morning’s edition of that answer was noticeably different, and surrounding media members are taking notice. Is LaVine hinting at a change soon, or is he tired of the narrative that he’s the issue in Chicago?
“It’s A Business”
The Chicago Bulls starting the 2023 season 4-7 and LaVine playing some of the worst basketball of his career has led to a whirlwind of a week for the rumor mill. First, Shams reports that teams around the league are monitoring the Bulls’ downfall and are checking in on the two-time All-Star’s status. Then, K.C. Johnson of NBC Chicago reports that their 28-year-old star has “never gotten over” last year’s benching late in the fourth quarter loss to the Orlando Magic. Remember, LaVine was 1-14 from the field at the time with four points.
Rich Paul, LaVine’s agent, has several marquee NBA clients and has been well-documented to land massive contracts and be integral in trades when they’re requested as well. It’s feeling like his next task may be to find LaVine a new home.
Outstayed His Welcome In Chicago
Zach LaVine’s career in Chicago has been nothing short of a roller coaster. Earning his first two All-Star nods in the Windy City, getting the reigns to his own franchise, enjoying a career-high 27.4 points per game in 2020 and four seasons over 24.0, and earning his first max contract carrying a value of over $200 million have all made Chicago a place to remember for the former UCLA Bruin.
As a franchise, Chicago has not celebrated much success with LaVine. Whether that’s his lack of versatility and skill or an organizational failure to bring in surrounding pieces and develop draft talent, it hasn’t come together for Chicago in seven years. Someone will have to fall on the sword if the Bulls finish another lackluster season on the outside of the playoffs, falling short yet again of expectation. With the way LaVine has started the 2023 campaign, he’ll likely be facing the fire.
LaVine’s press conference this morning continued the same sentiment that Chicago has fallen on throughout their losing sprees: winning cures all. Patrick Williams, Billy Donovan, Arturas Karnisovas, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Zach LaVine said this in their respective interviews. At some point, the words must turn to actions, or someone’s getting shown the door.
Is LaVine being rightfully blamed for the woes in Chicago? What kind of return can the Bulls expect from their 28-year-old star?