With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Chicago Bulls have to make a decision about disgruntled All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine. The Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Miami Heat are interested in adding LaVine to their roster in a trade, but time is running out.
The NBA trade deadline is set for Thursday, Feb. 9. There’s been no shortage of trade rumors, but very little activity over the last week aside from a deal between the Lakers and Washington Wizards.
The Wizards traded forward Rui Hachimura to the Lakers in exchange for guard Kendrick Nunn and multiple second-round draft picks. It looks like the Lakers will stand pat before the deadline, but the LaVine trade rumors will not go away.
During the last two seasons with the Bills, LaVine was named to the NBA All-Star team.
Bubble Bulls, Betting Long Shots
The Bulls are currently in tenth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but would qualify for the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. Four teams on the east playoff bubble are separated by just a half-game including the Wizards (23-26), Bulls (23-26), Indiana Pacers (24-28), and Toronto Raptors (23-28).
The Bulls are long shots to win the 2022-23 NBA championship at +3500 odds. They’re +18000 odds to win the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls are in third place in the Central Division, but 9.5 games out of first place behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The Central Division is a two-team race between the Bucks at -400 odds, and the Cleveland Cavs at +265 odds. The Bulls are not even in contention to win the division at +35000 odds.
FiveThirtyEight predicts the Bulls will finish this season with a 39-43 record. They have a glimmer of hope with 26% chance to qualify for the postseason. However, FiveThirtyEight suggested the Bulls have less than a 0.1% chance to win the NBA championship.
LaVine Beefing with DDR and Billy Donovan
In the offseason, LaVine signed a five-year deal with the Bulls worth $215 million. He wanted to sign with the Lakers, but they did not have the cap space to accommodate his new max contract.
An ongoing rift between LaVine and teammate DeMar DeRozan continues to deepen during an inconsistent and losing season with the Bulls.
Everybody goes through ups and downs, just like every team does,” LaVine said in an interview with The Athletic. “Obviously if we’re not winning games, not everybody’s going to be happy. It’s all glitter and show when you’re winning games.”
LaVine and DeRozan, are the top two scorers on the team, and the pair of alpha personalities manage to find buckets despite only one ball. DeRozan leads the Bulls with a 26.4 ppg scoring average, while LaVine averages 23.8 ppg.
“Now is the time to understand how we can make this work for the whole group,” said DeRozan. “I haven’t played with a talent at that wing position like Zach. He’s one of a kind. I want to put everything I’ve been through in my career, share that with him and win together.”
Head coach Billy Donovan and LaVine have also had their share of confrontations. Donovan has been critical of LaVine’s lackadaisical defense, to which he has a valid point. Opposing teams have been targeting LaVine in pick-and-roll opportunities.
Going Back to Cali via Klutch?
LaVine has not been shy about returning to Los Angeles. Even though he grew up in Seattle, he played his collegiate ball at UCLA and always had an affinity for the Lakers.
The Lakers made moves in the past that favors clients from Klutch Sports Group, which is the same agency that represents LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and LaVine. The Lakers made a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans so that James and Davis could play together, but they gave up multiple first-round draft picks to seal the deal.
Klutch pushed the Lakers to make another big trade with the Wizards for point guard Russell Westbrook which included more draft picks and a slew of role players. The Lakers struggled after adding Westbrook in a trade and they bubbled the playoffs last season.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has a shortage of draft picks, and said they were not interested in sweetening a Westbrook trade with two future first-round draft picks. The Lakers should finish the season with Westbrook, who is in the final year of a super-max contract worth $46.7 million.
The Lakers will not have a salary match to add LaVine in a trade in the offseason after Westbrook leaves, but they could make it happen before the deadline. However, that would entail the Lakers giving up some of their limited future draft capital.
The Lakers recently slipped to 13th place in the Western Conference with a 23-27 record. The west has nine teams between fourth place and 12th place that are separated by only three games. The Lakers are just behind that cluster, but they’re two games out of the Western Conference Play-In Tournament and on pace to miss the playoffs for consecutive seasons.
Knicks and Heat Both Eye LaVine Trade
The New York Knicks are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 27-24 record. They’re right behind the Miami Heat, who hold onto sixth place with a 28-23 record. The Knicks and Heat need another key scorer if they want to move up to next level and compete with the top five teams in the east.
The Knicks have enough future draft picks and young talent to make a run at an All-Star level player. They’ve been courting Bradley Beal from the Washington Wizards the last couple of seasons, but the Wizards said they will not deal their superstar. If they cannot get Beal, then they’ll take a shot at LaVine.
The Miami Heat seek to add another scorer to provide them depth during a postseason run. They were also interested in Beal from the Wizards, but they’d gladly add LaVine in a trade with the Bulls.
The Bulls will not entertain any trade discussions with the Heat if do not include guard Tyler Herro in a deal. Herro won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award last season, but he’s been starting this season.
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