Last night’s loss against the Orlando Magic dropped the Chicago Bulls to a 4-8 record to begin the 2023 season. Anyone who has followed this club throughout the offseason into this year knows that this is a make-or-break campaign for many of Chicago’s players and staff members. Having one playoff victory over the past seven seasons is finally triggering some fundamental imminent personnel changes. Zach LaVine’s slow start to the year and expression of frustrations to this point in the young season has made him a frequent flyer on the trade rumor mill, and one team has emerged as taking genuine interest in his services. What can the Bulls expect in return, and how soon before they pull the trigger?
LaVine To The Lakeshow
The Los Angeles Lakers’ interest in LaVine started two years ago before he inked his contract extension to stay in Chicago. It continued this offseason when they gauged the interest in sending the 28-year-old guard out West. Pairing a third star with Anthony Davis and LeBron James has been a goal of theirs for several years, with a few pairings falling short of expectations. Russell Westbrook and D’Angelo Russell were two of the failed experiments, and now the Lakers are looking for a guard to push the trio to contention for the first time since winning the NBA title in 2020. With James on the final leg of his illustrious career, this might be a last ditch effort from Rob Pelinka and company in Los Angeles.
The objective of Chicago in any potential firesale would be to gain as much draft capital and young talent as possible. Entering an era where they’d be left with 23-year-old Coby White and 22-year-old Patrick Williams to take the wheel for the Bulls, any potential they can obtain will contribute to rebuilding a franchise from the ground up. Several potential trade packages have been drawn for LaVine, whose value is diminishing as his sluggish start to 2023 continues. Averaging his lowest points, assists, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage in six years has contributed to the Bulls’ recent woes and lowering his price tag in the trade market.
The Lakers have made it known that they do not want to trade Austin Reaves. At 25 years old and a pivotal part of last season’s playoff success, he’s become an integral part of their system. This past summer, his role with Team USA further cemented his status in the NBA ranks.
On the other hand, D’Angelo Russell was being benched in late-game scenarios as the 2022 season progressed and was much of the reason Los Angeles fizzled out so abruptly while getting swept by the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 6.3 points per game in that series on just 32.3% shooting from the field and 13% from three-point territory. In the series prior, Russell averaged nearly 15 points per game on over 45% shooting from the floor.
If the Bulls continue to slide downhill, how long before Arturas Karnisovas blows the entire operation up and attempts to regain as much capital in return for his diminishing assets as possible? With DeMar DeRozan departing this summer without an extension reached, Patrick Williams having a disappointing season not appearing to be worth extending, and an overall aging roster, is this a lifeline for the Chicago Bulls?