Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Aftermath Of LaVine’s Season-Ending Surgery Blindsiding The Chicago Bulls


This afternoon, Zach LaVine and his representation released news that not only shocked the Chicago Bulls organization but surprised the entire NBA’s following. Klutch Sports and LaVine, after consultation with Chicago’s medical staff, have foregone his possible return to action following the February 8th trade deadline in favor of a safer option, given his continued pain regarding the right foot. Many suspect that there’s more at play here, especially with the notion of season-ending not being mentioned until it was dropped today by the Chicago Bulls social media teams paired with the potential trade to Detroit heating up behind closed doors, a team LaVine has no desire to play for. Where do the Bulls go now, and how does it affect their short-term and long-term plans with the two-time All-Star guard?

Potential Dodging Of An Unfavorable Trade

No one is saying that the potential of being traded to the league’s worst team, the six-win Detroit Pistons, was the sole reason LaVine opted for a six-month recovery period that comes alongside right foot surgery. However, there’s something to be noted when head coach Billy Donovan twice over the past two weeks has stated that he’ll be reevaluated near or after the trade deadline and that his season being completely over was never a possibility until today’s breaking news. LaVine’s camp has been outspoken, saying that he’s open to a change of scenery and has publicly not seen eye-to-eye with Donovan several times. At one point, a team wishlist was leaked regarding the guard’s preferences moving forward. None of those teams were the Pistons.

This year will go down as his worst as a Chicago Bull, matching the abysmal totals from his first injury-riddled season with the team. In 2017, he only played in 24 games, averaging 16.7 points on 38.3% shooting from the field and 34.1% from three-point land while playing 27.3 minutes per contest. This year, he’ll finish with 25 games played, averaging 19.5 points on 45.2% shooting overall and 34.9% clip from deep range while on the floor for 34.9 minutes per game. Indeed, he’s not proving worthy of the over $40 million he’s due each of the following four seasons.

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No Firesale For Chicago

If most teams were to lose their star guard for the season while sitting 23-26 or ninth in the Eastern Conference, they’d look to gain as many assets to retool or rebuild over the offseason. On the other hand, Chicago may see this as partially good news, seeing that their record has been better and offensive output has increased without LaVine on the floor. After stumbling to a 5-13 start with their two-time All-Star, they rattled off a 10-5 15-game stretch following his departure due to injury and reinserted themselves into the playoff picture. Coby White has surged as one of the premier young three-point threats in the league and is firmly in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award.

Realistically, Chicago should be moving DeMar DeRozan’s expiring contract, shipping Andre Drummond to a contender for some return, and potentially moving Alex Caruso for substantial capital. Two first-round picks have been thrown their direction for Caruso by several teams each of the last two trade deadlines, coupled with the single first-round selection one could extract for DeRozan and a young player or second-round stock that Drummond could produce, the Bulls could refuel their depleted NBA Draft pockets.

Unfortunately, as Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic states below, Chicago has been known to be content with mediocrity in recent memory, and no major shakeup is expected. Their last hope for any movement at the trade deadline is that the LaVine news created an urgency for change regarding a team destined for its sixth occurrence in seven seasons falling short of playoff basketball.

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