Trade season has begun in the NBA this week, with the draft quickly approaching.
And three drafts after the Jimmy Butler trade, two pieces may be on the move quickly. On Monday, the Chicago Bulls declined Kris Dunn’s $7.1 million qualifying offer making him an unrestricted free agent and far less likely to be retained.
Now, according to recent rumors, Zach LaVine could be following Dunn out of Chicago.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo is now reporting the Bulls are floating LaVine in trade talks. Over at the Ringer, Kevin O’Connor has reported that the Dallas Mavericks specifically have asked about LaVine.
Earlier in the week, ESPN’s draft guru Jonathan Givony forwarded rumblings that the Bulls are “active in potential trade discussions for a veteran guard”, which O’Connor reiterated following the news on Dunn.
O’Connor also said the Bulls are “targeting a playmaker in the draft”, something rumored all month that could suggest LaMelo Ball. He’s projected to go top three in most mock drafts which is just out of reach of the Bulls at No. 4. Would the Bulls consider dangling LaVine at the Timberwolves to try to secure that No. 1 pick?
If stuck at No. 4 and with Ball off the board, that isn’t the only high-end playmaker in the draft. Kira Lewis Jr. out of Alabama, Tyrese Haliburton out of the familiar Iowa State pipeline, international point guard Killian Hayes, and others all probably also qualify as playmakers.
The Bulls can sit tight at No. 4 and nab any one of those guys barring a shocker in the top three picks.
Of course, these rumors may not be in tandem: there’s a lot of scenarios where the Bulls don’t have to trade LaVine and still can get a playmaker. Unless we’re talking somebody at a Russell Westbrook caliber, the Bulls would probably want LaVine to be around said playmaking veteran point guard.
To be fair to LaVine, he is a playmaker in his own right. He can score at will and probably a half dozen Bulls wins last season are attributable to his offensive heroics on that particular night. The area where he falls short in the playmaking department is he doesn’t make his teammates better with his passing. This is where the Bulls have to do some self-examination: will he ever develop that skill? Can he ever be a first option or even a second one on a championship-caliber team? If you build around somebody else does LaVine complement that player or would he be better off elsewhere?
The answers to these questions will reflect Karnisovas’s consideration of LaVine. LaVine was a member of ‘the core’ but that is an old core assembled by a deposed regime. LaVine enters the third year of a lucrative four-year contract, and while it’s not urgent to make this decision, the time is coming to determine LaVine’s long-term Bulls future. With the draft approaching maybe that time is actually very soon.