Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Zach LaVine, Bulls Headed For Inevitable “Divorce”


Sunday afternoon’s 2024 NBA Draft lottery selection show awarded the Chicago Bulls the 11th pick in the upcoming draft. Their familiar foe of recent history, the Atlanta Hawks, was drawn into the first overall selection for the first time in NBA Draft lottery history after heading into the day with only a 3% chance of walking away with the top pick. Several teams have made it known that their phone lines are open regarding their top-ten draft selections, many of them searching for established talent. Zach LaVine, a two-time All-Star during his seven seasons with the Bulls, may have played his last game in Chicago and could see a change of laundry before the 2024-25 season tips off.

“Both Sides Feel” It’s Time To Move On

LaVine’s arrival to stardom evolved in the Windy City after being traded from Minnesota just three seasons into his NBA career. He celebrated his first All-Star selection, first season over 20 points per game, first playoff win, and first max contract. That last accolade has become his demise, quickly pushing him out of town. Only 18 players in the NBA earn at least $40 million annually, 17 of whom have been named to an All-NBA team and have more than one playoff win.

The lone player without either is Zach LaVine. Following back-to-back seasons without an All-Star nod or playoff appearance, change is on the horizon in Chicago, and LaVine is the first domino to fall. Had it not been for season-ending surgery executed just days before the NBA’s trade deadline this season, he’d likely already be on a different roster.

Ja Morant’s Running Mate

LaVine’s potential suitors will start flocking on Wednesday, June 26th, at the 2024 NBA Draft. Several of the top ten teams in the draft order have already expressed interest in trading their selections for veteran talent. While Memphis or Houston may look to move their pick in exchange for an elite scorer with All-Star experience, Los Angeles or Golden State remain in play because of their win-now roster construction. The ninth pick in the draft could not afford LaVine alone, but a package built around their premium draft slot could pull the 29-year-old out of Chicago.

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Arturas Karnisovas kicked off the summer by admitting this experiment has failed and that the roster will undergo severe changes in pursuit of their first playoff series victory in a decade. With only one playoff win under the LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic trio despite a myriad of injuries and an extension last offseason for head coach Billy Donovan, the expectation is that he’ll remain at the helm for at least another year. Nikola Vucevic inked a contract extension last summer. LaVine’s contract represents one of the worst in the league, and DeRozan is no longer under contract; one or both will be elsewhere before the 2024-25 campaign.

With an imminent split of LaVine and the Bulls, is he the only fix for an organization that has won one playoff game since his arrival seven seasons ago, or is more change to come? DeRozan and Patrick Williams will be next on the list, both looming free agents in the coming months.

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