Chicago Bulls swingman Zach LaVine, who is averaging 21.9 points per game this season, hasn’t been a stranger to trade rumors in recent years, but the possibility of him playing elsewhere increased dramatically on Tuesday.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, rival teams are looking into LaVine’s availability as there’s “increased openness” from both the guard and the Bulls around a possible trade. Despite the fact that he should be in demand, LaVine is in the second season of his five-year, $215 million contract, which may pose some issues in negotiations.
Nonetheless, here are four teams that the 28-year-old would be a strong fit for if he were traded.
Trading for LaVine and his massive contract could be problematic down the road for an aging team like Miami. The Heat recognize that their window of opportunity to win a championship is limited, though, as evidenced by their aggressive offseason run at current Milwaukee Buck Damian Lillard. Although LaVine isn’t the same offensive threat as Lillard, he’s averaging 25.3 points over the last four seasons and would immediately become a focal point for the sixth-worst scoring team in the NBA (109.6 points per game).
The Portland Trail Blazers passed on Tyler Herro during the Lillard negotiations and chances are the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year’s hefty contract won’t interest Chicago. Any return for LaVine will depend on the Bulls’ intentions for the future. If they pursue a rebuild, a package centered around Kyle Lowry’s expiring deal, along with draft picks, could benefit both sides.
This is already shaping up to be another injury-plagued season for the 5-6 Pelicans, with guard CJ McCollum (collapsed lung) the latest to suffer a serious ailment. New Orleans is already feeling McCollum’s absence, posting a 1-4 record without him. The Pelicans entered the season with concerns about their future with their current core and should they continue to struggle, they’ll need to make a move to keep Zion Williamson at ease.
Sending LaVine to the Western Conference would make sense for the Bulls since they wouldn’t have to play him as much. Aside from owning some intriguing future draft picks, the Pelicans could offer the strongest trade chip of any team in Brandon Ingram, a younger pure scorer who is only under contract through next season. Ingram hasn’t developed in the way many expected since his breakout 2019-20 season, but his offensive potential makes him a valuable asset for the Bulls to either build around or flip for additional draft picks.