The past two seasons haven't been too kind to the Chicago Bulls. After making the playoffs in 2022, the Bulls have decided to maintain a middling product on the court, holding on to their most established players despite having a few opportunities to sell and trade them for a few draft assets. The Bulls have promptly missed out on the playoffs on two consecutive seasons, and to make things worse, they now appear to be stuck with a depreciating trade asset in Zach LaVine.

LaVine was one of the players that was most involved in trade rumors throughout the 2023-24 season, with the Los Angeles Lakers often being brought up as a potential destination for the Bulls highflyer. However, LaVine underwent surgery to address his foot injury, preventing the Bulls from trading him prior to the February 8 deadline.

Now, the road ahead for the Bulls when it comes to trading Zach LaVine only appears to be getting more difficult from here. Per Evan Sidery of FanSided, LaVine's market “appears to be severely limited” and that the Bulls may have to attach an asset just to trade him away. The murmurs around the league, per Sidery, is that “LaVine’s contract is viewed as an albatross with $138 million remaining over the next three years.”

LaVine missed a total of 57 games this past season after sustaining a plethora of injuries to his lower body, primarily his foot. Before he went down with season-ending surgery, the Bulls guard wasn't exactly at his best, averaging 19.5 points on 45.2 percent shooting — his worst numbers as a Bull aside from his first season in the Windy City.

Zach LaVine is only 29 years old, however, so there should still be a market out there for a 20-plus-point per game scorer despite his exorbitant contract. But the Bulls may have to temper their expectations as to what LaVine would bring back in any prospective trade.

Have we seen the last of Zach LaVine in a Bulls uniform?

It remains unclear which direction the Bulls will be taking moving forward. The smart move for them may be to undergo a soft reset, trading away their veterans in Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Alex Caruso while turning over the controls to breakout guard Coby White. However, there appears to be no indication that the Bulls are willing to sell. In fact, the Bulls are reportedly looking to keep DeMar DeRozan in an attempt to run it back.

With how wary teams are of forking over a ton of assets to trade for LaVine, it's also unlikely that the Bulls receive the godfather they're waiting for to pull the trigger. A team that could revisit trade talks for LaVine is the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons, fresh off a season in which they won 14 games, would actually benefit from bringing LaVine in to give them a legitimate fringe All-Star player to boost the roster alongside Cade Cunningham.

Alas, the Pistons have a ton of cap space this offseason, so it's unclear just how big their appetite is to tie up a considerable portion of their cap space to LaVine without exploring their options first. Thus, any Pistons trade for LaVine may have to wait until the free agency dust has settled.

Moreover, as Sidery pointed out, the Pistons are yet to hire their president of basketball operations; with general manager Troy Weaver having less power over roster decisions than before, the team's interest level in a LaVine trade with the Bulls is also in serious doubt.

And then there's the fact that teams might want to see LaVine round back into form before trading for him, especially after an injury-ravaged 2023-24 campaign. Thus, there remains a strong chance that LaVine begins the 2024-25 season in a Bulls uniform still.

Stuck in mediocrity

If the Bulls lost the 9/10 play-in tournament matchup, then they would have had the winning combination that allowed the Atlanta Hawks to win the first overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft. Sure, this current draft class isn't the best. But teams would much rather have the pick of the litter than the 11th overall selection like the Bulls do.

As enticing as it might be for fans to see the team they're rooting for take the initiative to rebuild the team, the Bulls will have difficulties embracing the youth movement. For starters, outside of Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu, the Bulls don't exactly have young players who project to be high-level contributors for the long term. Patrick Williams is only 22, but he hasn't exactly shown top potential. It's not like Nikola Vucevic or Zach LaVine will net them blue-chip youngsters or plenty of draft assets.

As disappointing as it may be, the best direction for the Bulls right now to take may be to remain in the middle and hope they strike gold with a few moves here and there. There are no guarantees that bottoming out works (just take a look at the Pistons). So expect the Bulls to remain stuck in mediocrity for the time being.