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NBA trade rumors: Will Bulls blow up core featuring DeMar DeRozan, Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic?

Chicago’s All-Stars have not been able to make things work.

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New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls look on against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half of a preseason game at the United Center on October 04, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls are in a bad spot heading into the holiday season, sitting at 11-18 ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat. The Bulls have not been able to recapture their success from last season, largely due to Lonzo Ball’s indefinite absence and DeMar DeRozan’s decline from what many consider a MVP-level campaign in 2021-22. Despite a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, the Bulls had reason to believe this core could accomplish something heading into the summer.

Chicago doubled down with a max extension for Zach LaVine, who is seen as the franchise player. DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic complement him as All-Stars, but they haven’t been up to the mark this year. All this comes with Chicago’s draft pick holding a top-4 protection in a draft class featuring the formidable Victor Wembanyama. Should the Bulls blow it all up and tank for their draft pick?

A report from Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry at The Athletic details the frustration inside the Bulls’ franchise, including LaVine and the organization not seeing eye to eye. There’s also a disconnect between the two guards, and LaVine has more upside and financial pull than DeRozan at this point.

The Los Angeles Lakers have been interested in DeRozan, and they have some expiring contracts and future assets that would appeal to Chicago. Vucevic himself is an expiring contract and can help a contender at the deadline. The Golden State Warriors could be a potential destination for the big man. LaVine likely stays put as the franchise player, and Ball has no trade value. The Bulls won’t deal Alex Caruso or Pat Williams but Coby White is a nice filler salary.

Chicago can likely recoup some future draft assets, rebuild their relationship with LaVine and present him with the new vision, and do everything to ensure their 2023 draft pick stays with them. The Bulls will likely give this group a few more weeks before ultimately deciding which path to take.