We have a Zach LaVine suitor (rumor)
market is no longer completely "barren" with trade deadline 2 weeks away
Hopefully that is indeed the lowest point, though. As today we have a new team: The Pistons!
the Chicago Bulls and Pistons have had conversations involving Zach LaVine, league sources say. Chicago appears to be locked in on a package involving Bojan Bogdanović and one of Detroit’s blue-chippers for LaVine and his hefty contract. Once again, the Pistons have shown no interest in parting with any of Cunningham, Ivey, Duren or Thompson. It is possible Detroit considers adding LaVine when/if the Bulls’ asking price goes down. However, those are discussions that have been happening and will continue to happen internally.
The exclamation above is just that there’s any team, not necessarily that it’s Detroit. We’re learning (as much as sourced reporting can teach us) that LaVine is simply not perceived league-wide as having positive value given his outstanding (no exclamation) contract. Combine that with the Bulls refusal to spend themselves, and it probably should become accepted that the value is set this low and unlikely to change in 2 weeks. As we saw the past 2 weeks, LaVine returned to action but was always unlikely to make a difference, and this perception looks to have only dipped.
So this does suggest that maybe the value is so low that a no-hoper team (and not near the luxury tax) like the Pistons could talk themselves into swinging for LaVine. The above rumor was from James Edwards III at The Athletic, who just a few days ago had a back-and-forth with analyst John Hollinger, who suggested LaVine as a way to spend their 2024 cap space early.
I just don’t really see the deal that allows Detroit to trade its expiring contracts for a player signed beyond this season and profit from it. I’ll give you one exception: Zach LaVine. That’s the one guy where I could see something shaking out, just because the Bulls seem, well, bullish on moving him, and might lower their demands as we got closer to the deadline. A Detroit package of Joe Harris, James Wiseman and Burks for LaVine and Julian Phillips would accomplish a salary match and keep Chicago out of the tax. It would just be a question of whether Detroit could stomach giving up a 2029 first to take on the three years and $138 million left on his deal, or on the flip side, whether Chicago could stomach not getting a first at all.
So that’s speculation on why it makes sense for Detroit, and now we have reporting saying they’re actually thinking about this internally.
The follow up question is what do the Bulls think of this. As I’ve lamented recently, the front office likely doesn’t feel internal pressure to make a LaVine trade just for the sake of it. I think they should: it’s clear that bringing a disgruntled half-engaged LaVine into this playing rotation doesn’t help much, and at worst can stifle Coby White (the only good thing about this season).
It probably doesn’t help or harm their playoff chances much either way, but that’s also reason to simply trade him. You’d think the Bulls would overvalue this regular season, if anything. So I don’t understand the theory that they are confident they can make a better LaVine trade in the offseason to the point where it is worth not maximizing this season.
(to a lesser extent, there should be motivation from the front office to make a trade, any trade, simply to show you have a pulse. But there is no internal job pressure so that can be easily dismissed with a smirk)
So the Bulls need to come down on their asking price. If they can get quality veterans for this season’s “push”, and a lot of financial flexibility for the next couple seasons, then you can give on receiving any great assets too.
Here’s how I see what the Pistons can offer:
Blue-chip assets: Cunningham, Ivey, Duren, Thompson
First round picks: Detroit owes a first that’s protected until 2027. So they can technically offer 2029, or add language where it’s to drafts after that one owed is conveyed (I don’t think LaVine gets them out of the top-10 very soon though)
Lesser picks and rookie scale players: Pistons have several second rounders available (reminder: Bulls are pretty bereft the next few years here), including a 2024 pick that is very likely in the 30-35 range.
On the ‘prospect’ pile that are not deemed blue-chip (brown-chip?): PF/C Isaiah ‘beef’ Stewart is still 22, and just signed an extension at $15M per year for the next 3 years. Guards Killian Hayes (22.5 years old, restricted free agent after the season), Marcus Sasser (23 years old, just started rookie contract at ~$3M) and I suppose really reaching would be forward Kevin Knox (age 24.5, expiring). And then reaching even further would be center James Wiseman, hitting restricted free agency but yet to turn 23.
Useful role players Bulls could use right now: Bojan Bogdanovic, Alec Burks
Other expiring salary flotsam, doubtfully still useful: Mike Muscala, Danilo Gallinari, Joe Harris, Monte Morris
Also, this is always worth mentioning: the Pistons are $30M under the tax, so in a salary-aggregated trade they can take back more current-year salary, which would free up payroll room for the Bulls to make additional moves this season and stay under (THANK GOD).
The Bulls are hopefully just holding until the deadline and will ultimately relent on their ask for someone from the top two tiers of assets. Or perhaps use a Detroit trade package (say Bogdanovic+Bucks+2ndRounder/’prospect’) as a backstop to goose something more valuable from a contender.
Is such a middling package from the Pistons, with no first-rounder or Jaden Ivey, ‘losing’ a LaVine trade? I suppose, but the Bulls shouldn’t concern themselves with that kind of PR. Not doing a trade at all for the 5th straight transaction period would make them outright losers.
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