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NBA trade rumors: Bulls should deal Zach LaVine but will anyone bite?

Chicago’s guard appears to be on the way out, although the market might not be as hot as expected.

Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls
Zach Lavine of the Chicago Bulls controls the ball against the Charlotte Hornets on January 05, 2024 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Chicago Bulls signed Zach LaVine to a five-year, $215 million deal in the 2022 offseason expecting the player to be with the team for the rest of his career. After all, LaVine had kept the Bulls somewhat afloat through the rebuild and had established himself as a leader. And while the Jimmy Butler trade remains a sore spot for Bulls fans and the organization, LaVine felt like he had recouped some of that value back for Chicago.

Fast forward to January 2024 and it feels like a breakup is inevitable. The Bulls hinted at being amicable to dealing LaVine last year but ultimately didn’t make any moves with their core. They instead re-signed center Nikola Vucevic and are reportedly trying to extend DeMar DeRozan, who is set to enter free agency this summer. LaVine has suddenly become an afterthought and is likely to be dealt, but will the market respond favorably to Chicago’s demands?

LaVine’s numbers have declined substantially from his 2020-21 campaign, where he averaged 27.4 points per game on 50/41/84 shooting splits. He’s still a respectable scorer who can create offensively, so he still has value. That value has taken a big hit due to his current contract and his recent injury history. LaVine has dealt with back and leg issues over the last two seasons, most recently being sidelined for a month with a foot injury.

The Bulls also started winning games with LaVine out, going from 5-14 to 15-21 with wins over the Bucks, Pelicans, Heat, 76ers twice and Lakers in that span. The Bulls are now 17-21 with two wins over Charlotte since LaVine’s return.

Chicago’s five most frequent lineups have three net negative results. LaVine is featured in all three, and he’s not a part of the two that are net positives. It’s hard to justify keeping him around from a cost and results standpoint.

The Lakers and 76ers appear to be the most obvious destinations for LaVine, although the Pacers might be a fit given how they operate offensively. Los Angeles could send a future first-round pick in any deal that will intrigue Chicago, but does a package of D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura work with this roster? Jalen Hood-Schifino or Max Christie would probably also need to be involved. The 76ers have Tobias Harris’ expiring deal to play with, although the Bulls would surely want De’Anthony Melton or Kelly Oubre Jr. in the trade too.

The Pacers would be able to give the expiring contracts of Buddy Hield and Obi Toppin to Chicago in a deal for LaVine, along with T.J. McConnell. Indiana’s core would still be intact, although the Bulls would probably press to get Bennedict Mathurin instead of Toppin. Division deals are hard to do during the season, so this one seems unlikely. What is likely is Chicago moving on from the player it once felt was the future of the franchise.