Zach LaVine trade rumors are everywhere — there is more heat on them than actual interest from teams in the two-time All-Star averaging 22.6 points a game this season.
LaVine and his camp are ready to be traded out of Chicago and the Bulls are — finally! — open to breaking up a core that has never clicked as they hoped (at least after Lonzo Ball’s injury). For his part, LaVine wants to go to a contender, reports Jake Fischer at Yahoo Sports.
LaVine and his representation hold several preferred landing spots, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and each team has registered some level of interest in the Bulls guard. LaVine also has an eye on joining the San Antonio Spurs, sources said, in order to pair with rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama and reunite with head coach Gregg Popovich, who oversaw the 2020 Team USA outfit that LaVine helped win a gold medal in Tokyo. There are several other contending situations LaVine would welcome joining, sources said, one being Sacramento. The Kings signed LaVine to an offer sheet during his restricted free agency in 2018, albeit before this present front office regime took the reins in Northern California.
The Toronto Raptors also have interest in LaVine, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. They are not currently a contender and not a team LaVine may be interested in, but with three more years on his contract after this one, LaVine has very little leverage to force a deal where he wants to go in this scenario.
While LaVine has his list of teams, the interest from those franchises is lukewarm right now, league sources told NBC Sports. The 76ers are off to a fast 9-3 start and — while they may need to add a shot creator at some point to make a run this season — they want to see how things play out and make any moves closer to the trade deadline.
Philadelphia also represents a lot of teams in this sense: It may have more interest in DeMar DeRozan or Alex Caruso than LaVine.
What gives teams pause with LaVine is his contract: Teams would be on the hook for the remainder of the $40 million he is owed this season then three more years after this at $138 million total (the last season is a player option). While LaVine brings elite shot creation for himself and shooting from 3, he is a negative defender and is not seen as someone with a well-rounded game. He’s an All-Star player but needs to be in a specific role for the team to thrive. Also, while he has been healthy this season and played 77 games last season, before that LaVine had knee issues, which is something teams remember.
In the case of Miami, it could put together a trade based around Tyler Herro, but the front office has to ask themselves if LaVine is so much better than Herro it’s worth bringing in a player five years older who makes $13 million more a season. With the Lakers, who can’t make a trade before Dec. 15 (due to players available), they want to see how things play out and any deal would have to be on their terms (meaning not a great return for Chicago).
The Bulls may want to get something done sooner rather than later rather than have a cloud of rumors hanging over the franchise, but the market may not cooperate. Any trade is likely to be after Dec. 15 at the latest and more likely closer to the trade deadline than soon.