It has been a roller-coaster season for the Chicago Bulls, who sit at 22-26 with just under two weeks to go until the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. The rumblings about blowing the roster up had mostly subsided of late with the Bulls playing a bit better since the disastrous 11-18 start, but confounding losses like the ones they suffered Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers and Thursday against the Charlotte Hornets are keeping the idea of a blow-up fresh in some minds.
Chicago is in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, just outside the play-in picture but still within striking distance of the No. 6 seed, even after these recent disastrous defeats. There’s little reason to expect the Bulls to make any major sell-off trades because of their desire to compete, but some still argue they should change up their direction because they aren’t going anywhere. Zach LaVine is often at the center of these discussions.
LaVine is in the first season of a five-year max deal worth $215 million, and his play has also been a roller coaster. He struggled to start 2022-23 as he came off knee surgery before going on a scorching-hot stretch in December and into January, only to lose his shooting stroke of late after suffering a hand injury. The two-time All-Star was at the center of the collapse against the Pacers, with awful turnovers in crunch time dooming Chicago.
When healthy, LaVine is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NBA. But his flaws have kept him from being a true top-of-the-line superstar, and there are ongoing injury concerns. This leads to the discussions about a possible trade, like the one ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks recently had on The Lowe Post about sending LaVine to the Los Angeles Lakers (these sides have been linked before). The hypothetical trade, of course, involves the Bulls getting Russell Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. While Lowe and Marks ultimately decided on a no for this trade right now, they said it’s something the front office would at least have to consider if Los Angeles made the offer.
Honestly, the Bulls shouldn’t even consider it.
Even if you think Chicago should look to trade LaVine so soon after signing his max, that just isn’t the right trade. Trading LaVine to gift the Lakers another star while moving off Westbrook and only getting those mystery box picks so far in the future simply doesn’t match the value needed in such a trade. This is especially true given the recent nature of star trades and just how big the returns have been.
This was a point of discussion on the most recent episode of Blue Wire’s Cash Considerations: A Chicago Bulls Podcast:
“That’s just dogs**t value, whatever you think of Zach and all his flaws he has … To even match that Russ salary, the Bulls would also have to send other money out. You’re trading Zach and other salary for Russ and two first-rounders in four and six years. That just doesn’t do it for me … The Bulls can’t be selling low on Zach for no reason. You need to get a good offer or you just keep him.”
Given where the Bulls are at, they should be doing their due diligence and exploring every avenue ahead of the trade deadline. They aren’t a contender right now, even with their slew of high-profile wins. The record is the record, and Lonzo Ball isn’t going to come save the day.
Still, that doesn’t mean this front office needs to rush out and make bad trades in a last-gasp attempt to tank the rest of the season. If Godfather offers are on the table, that’s one thing, but this Lakers trade is not an offer you can’t refuse.
Cash Considerations: A Chicago Bulls Podcast is part of the Blue Wire Podcast Network. The pod can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts.