Friday, March 1, 2024

More Intriguing Evidence That Zach LaVine Will Be Traded This Week


Chicago’s two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine has had a less-than-desirable 2023-24 campaign. After beginning the season 5-13, including being winless in the NBA’s first In-Season Tournament, LaVine went down to injury and has since been reinjured after a brief seven-game return. Originally scheduled to sit out a week or two, Billy Donovan has pushed the timeline back twice in the last two weeks, conveniently lining up with the trade deadline of February 8th. Yesterday, more supporting evidence from one of the league’s most trusted sources came to light that may indicate that LaVine has seen his final days in a Chicago Bulls uniform.

Talks With Detroit Are “Real”

A bit of good news and bad news for Bulls fans, as Zach Lowe of The Lowe Post Podcast reports that while the rumors of LaVine headed up north are true, the selling point may be much lower than anticipated. He suggests, as many suspected given his overpriced long-term contract and lack of playoff success, that Chicago’s faithful should be prepared for his value to be severely lower than ever. Detroit’s league-worst six wins put them in a position to have the freedom to gamble on a player like LaVine with nothing to lose.

Adding to his lucrative contract and lack of a postseason resume, the current lingering injury adds to a career full of ailments. This year will mark his 8th out of ten seasons where he failed to reach the 65 games played mark, also known as the new bar to qualify for the NBA’s regular season awards. Trying to sell a constantly injured, nearly 29-year-old player with one postseason victory and zero All-NBA selections is almost impossible. Adding that he’s due top-15 leaguewide money at over $40 million for the next four seasons means his value sinks even further.

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Bulls Have Been Better Without LaVine

December marked the first full month without the former UCLA guard on the floor. Following a 5-13 October and November with him in the lineup, the Bulls put up an impressive 10-5 standing without his services. Coby White emerged as one of the league’s premier outside scoring threats and is firmly planted in the Most Improved Player award race, Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond each showed flashes of excellence when called upon, and the Bulls as a whole improved in nearly every statistical category offensively. Efficiency shooting the ball, assist rates, offensive rebounding, and turnover rate all improved. While this may have been LaVine’s team for the last seven seasons, the tides have swung away this year.

The Trade Details

As Lowe alludes to in his podcast, Chicago fans will likely not enjoy the return in exchange for Zach LaVine. With such depleted value, any return is good at this juncture.

Detroit Pistons Receive: Zach LaVine

Chicago Bulls Receive: Jaden Ivey, Joe Harris, Bojan Bogdanovic, 2nd Round Draft Pick (2027)

This swap would benefit both sides. Detroit can have an established All-Star in its’ backcourt with Cade Cunningham on the rise, at the expense of two players 32 years old or older on expiring contracts alongside a 21-year-old Ivey who’s had troubles finding his fit during his sophomore season, including coming off the bench for a while. Chicago can pair Coby White’s emergence with Ivey’s speed and athleticism and build a backcourt for the future. They’ll also have newfound cap space to spend on the frontcourt after LaVine is gone and DeRozan’s deal is up this summer.

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