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NBA trade rumors: Should Bulls deal Zach LaVine to kickstart rebuild?

Chicago’s guard is drawing interest from several teams.

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks
Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on November 13, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls have been receiving interest from the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, among other teams, for shooting guard Zach LaVine in a potential trade as the team begins to slide towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. LaVine has two more years and a player option left on the five-year max extension he signed at the conclusion of the 2021 season. He’s averaging 21.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3 assists per game so far this year.

The Bulls extended center Nikola Vucevic during the past offseason and are hoping to sign DeMar DeRozan to an extension as well, although the sides reportedly remain far apart on a deal. Those actions seem to be in direct conflict of this report surrounding LaVine, mainly because it stated the Bulls were open to a deal. The real question is whether Chicago should punt on this core entirely and enter a rebuild.

The DeRozan-LaVine-Vucevic trio were highly successful in 2021-22, until Lonzo Ball’s injury seemed to unravel the entire operation. Chicago was in the mix for the top seed in the East at a crucial point in the season, playing excellent defense while maintaining an offense solid enough to scare teams with more overall talent. With Ball sidelined and reportedly unlikely to play basketball at the level he had previously reached, it could be time for Chicago to cash in its chips and try to reach contention status with a new group.

DeRozan is an expiring contract at $28.6 million, which many contenders can fit into their books easier than LaVine’s $40 million tag. Vucevic’s deal isn’t exorbitant either with the center making $18 million this year and $41 million over the next two seasons. The Bulls might not get prime draft assets for these players, but they’ll officially choose a path. They’ll also increase the value of their own picks.

Chicago has control over its own draft picks outside of a 2025 top-10 protected selection it will send to the Spurs. That becomes a top-8 protected pick in 2026 and 2027 if it doesn’t transfer, and then turns into a second-round selection.

The Bulls are already looking like they’ll be near the bottom of the East. Pushing forward with this core doesn’t seem logical, especially since the group has proven it is unable to win a playoff series without some serious luck. Dealing LaVine won’t feel good given what he’s meant to this group, but it could be an important first step in officially undergoing a proper rebuild to establish a true contender down the line.