The Chicago Bulls have not been able to build on a playoff campaign from a year ago as injuries and regression in play have dragged them down early in this 2022-23 season. One of the players who has regressed in Zach LaVine, who signed a five-year max contract with the organization over the offseason. LaVine was expected to be the franchise player for this group, which has found itself struggling to get to .500.
The Bulls have been competitive against the top teams in the East, routinely showing up on those nights. However, they’ve also sleepwalked through contests against teams they should easily be taking down. All this comes against the backdrop of Chicago owing a pick to the Magic which is top-4 protected in a draft featuring the once-in-a-generation prospect Victor Wembanyama.
Last year’s playoff exit showed Chicago this core might not be good enough to make it all the way to the Finals. Even internal improvement from young players might not make up the difference. The Bulls have to seriously consider blowing it all up, as painful as that would be. If they do make that decision, LaVine is likely the last piece to go if he goes at all. Chicago would love to hold onto LaVine and re-tool around him but he’s eligible to be dealt now. Here’s a few spots which makes sense for the shooting guard.
Heat get: Zach LaVine
Bulls get: Duncan Robinson, Caleb Martin, Nikola Jovic, Dewayne Dedmon, 2023 first-round pick, 2027 first-round pick, 2024 first-round swap
The Bulls could probably ask for one more swap or Tyler Herro, though the Heat won’t part with the latter. LaVine gives Miami a nice secondary scoring option and perimeter threat, while also giving Kyle Lowry a secondary creator to work off. The Heat are going for titles and Pat Riley has not been shy about pushing his chips to the center of the table. Whether he does that for LaVine is debatable but Miami can never be counted out.
Warriors get: Zach LaVine
Bulls get: James Wiseman, Kevon Looney, Jonathan Kuminga, Pat Baldwin Jr., Ty Jerome, 2023 first-round swap, 2026 first-round pick
Golden State would love to find a way to either not include Looney or get a filler big man back. The Bulls get some young players and draft assets, while the Warriors get another scorer who can play with any of the team’s guards. LaVine is a secondary creator for Stephen Curry or Jordan Poole. The Warriors are spending like crazy and have already committed big money to Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson, so they have no qualms about continuing to break the bank if it means competing for a title.