Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine is the All-Star being talked about most in trade rumors around the NBA. Perhaps one of the worst kept secrets around the league is that LaVine has not been happy with the direction of the franchise in quite some time, and this season brought reports of him going to Bulls management with a desire to move to a new home. A slow start to the season only intensified calls for Chicago to blow it up, with a LaVine trade as the centerpiece of a rebuild.

Now injured and set to miss a chunk of time with a foot injury, could LaVine possibly find his way to the Los Angeles Lakers in a blockbuster midseason trade? The latest revelations surrounding LaVine's injury only adds more intrigue.

The two-time All-Star has not played since Nov. 28 due to a right foot injury. Last Friday, LaVine was ruled out for at least a week. Then on Wednesday, the team released a statement saying that LaVine will miss an additional 3-4 weeks in order to treat his current right foot inflammation. What's interesting about LaVine and his current injury is the fact that the Bulls recently downplayed the severity of the injury, especially head coach Billy Donovan.

Earlier in the week, Donovan expressed optimism about LaVine's injury status and said he was “a lot better than when he was first diagnosed,” according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls coach then addressed the injury again Wednesday evening before the Bulls took on the Charlotte Hornets, a game they won 111-100 with LaVine out. It was Chicago's third straight win with LaVine out of the lineup.

“I think probably Friday would be more of an update,” Donovan told reporters. “But pretty much all that I have is that I think he’s feeling better – I do think that. He hasn’t done anything as it relates to hard activity on the court. I think they’ve been trying to let the foot calm down and slowly build him back up. But we’ll probably know more, maybe towards the end of the week.”

It appears as if Donovan was either given false information on the extent of LaVine's injury or the team kept their coach out of the loop, as the organization released their statement on the star swingman just hours later. On Thursday, LaVine spoke about his injury and claimed that he did not want to take away from the team's victory on Wednesday night with the news of his injury. LaVine did apparently talk to his teammates about the development ahead of time, claiming that it was a bonding moment, according to Johnson.

Something is not adding up here because this never appeared to be an injury that would sideline LaVine for close to a month, nor did it appear as if Donovan and the coaching staff were aware of the circumstances. While LaVine is obviously injured, as he is not the type of player who would be sitting out games if he was able to play, the questions pertaining to trade talks just got a little bit louder.

The Lakers are unable to make any big moves to their roster due to restrictions on recently signed players. However, around the time LaVine is ready to return from injury, Los Angeles will be able to offer any of the assets they own, including recently signed players from the offseason. Most notably, D'Angelo Russell becomes trade-eligible on Dec. 15, while Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura can be traded on Jan. 15. Doesn't it seem a little ironic that LaVine's injury timeline is synonymous with when the Lakers are able to make a trade?

Through the years, the Bulls have been unable to rise up in the Eastern Conference and prove to be real threats. As a result, this franchise is now staring down a rebuild with no clear solution in sight, especially now that LaVine is dealing with a foot issue. A trade continues to look likely, and the Lakers may just be in the best position out of any team in the league to pursue LaVine.

Latest on Zach LaVine trade conversations

Bulls' Zach LaVine with question marks

In November, the Bulls began talking with other organizations about the possibility of trading Zach LaVine. While a few teams had shown interest in the All-Star during the offseason, Chicago was unwilling to part ways with the core of their team before giving them a chance early on during the 2023-24 season. Now, the market for LaVine has dissipated, leaving the Bulls with only a handful of options if they truly want to part ways with the star before the trade deadline.

Very few teams around the NBA would be interested in trading for LaVine right now due to several reasons, one of which revolves around the Bulls' asking price. Chicago is not going to be giving away their All-Star just for the sake of trading him. Should the Bulls actually push for a trade involving LaVine ahead of the trade deadline, they are going to be wanting assets in return that can help them kick-start a retooling process around the talents that still remain on their roster.

When evaluating the other 29 teams in the NBA, it's hard to see the Bulls getting this kind of value right now simply because of LaVine's contract and the true impact he can make. While LaVine is certainly a terrific talent and an All-Star in his own right, would any team really be willing to relinquish multiple first-round picks and youthful talents in order to make him their third or fourth-best player? This is a key question many executives and front office personnel have been pondering when discussing the Bulls and LaVine.

There are also questions to be asked regarding LaVine's contract and if a team would truly be willing to take on the burden of his salary. LaVine is making $40 million this season, and his contract increases by about $3 million each year through the 2026-27 season.

As far as trading for LaVine goes, there are a few teams that could end up making the most sense as suitors. The Philadelphia 76ers may very well be in the market for a third star to pair with Tyrese Maxey and reigning league MVP Joel Embiid, yet absorbing a $40 million contract would be tough for them to accomplish. The Miami Heat are another Eastern Conference team that could really benefit offensively by adding a talent like LaVine alongside Jimmy Butler. There are a number of other teams that could potentially get in the mix if they want to try to make a splash.

However, the one team that tends to stick out the most is the Lakers.

LeBron James does not have many years left in the NBA, and the Lakers have made winning another championship their only goal as he wraps up his career. Even though the front office has made a lot of moves through the years to add the depth and talent they need to find success, the Lakers have not necessarily had the best start to the 2023-24 season. Winning the NBA In-Season Tournament would just mask the fact that this team still needs a third star alongside LeBron and Anthony Davis, especially if they want to have a chance at winning the NBA Finals.

LaVine's price tag is hefty, but the timeline of his injury and disinterest from other teams around the league may perfectly align with what the Lakers need. While one report suggested Los Angeles would prefer to go after DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso rather than LaVine, the Klutch Sports client would still make a lot of sense.

A potential Lakers trade with Bulls

Zach LaVine in Lakers uniform next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis

Nobody should be surprised that Zach LaVine's name is being brought up in conversations with the Lakers. For starters, the Lakers are mentioned as possible trade candidates any time an All-Star hits the open market. In contrast to other dream scenarios fans in Los Angeles have had through the years, multiple factors align perfectly with one another regarding LaVine trade rumors and his current injury timeline.

The Bulls have made it clear that LaVine will require an additional estimated 3-4 weeks to treat his current right foot inflammation. This means the earliest he will be made available is sometime in the middle of January, as the Bulls star will need time to get back in shape and practice with the team before returning to games.

Coincidently enough, the Lakers definitely cannot make any big trades until after Dec. 15, with Jan. 15 being an even more realistic date to watch. From Los Angeles' point of view, that's when all of D'Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, and others are no longer restricted, making each of them possible trade chips in a blockbuster deal for LaVine.

If the Bulls were to think about moving LaVine to the Lakers, Russell, Reaves, and Hachimura are certainly three players who would pique some kind of interest. Russell has always been viewed as a dependable guard who can make plays for himself with the help of star players around him. Chicago has holes to fill in their backcourt, possibly making D-Lo an affordable replacement for Lonzo Ball as he continues to battle knee injuries that have cast a shadow of doubt on his career.

The idea of acquiring Reaves could also prove to be very beneficial for the Bulls, especially since they had similar success stealing a scrappy guard in Alex Caruso from the Lakers a few years back. A backcourt duo of Reaves and Caruso would give the Bulls two “do-it-all” players who can play with or without the ball in their hands on offense, as well as create headaches for the opposition on defense due to their on-ball pressure. While the front office is currently signaling a desire to keep Reaves out of LaVine trade talks, perhaps things change.

Attempting to trade for LaVine obviously brings risk to the Lakers from an organization standpoint. His contract is certainly a major concern, as LaVine would be making the same amount of money as Davis despite holding a lesser role. At the same time, LaVine's upside as a scorer takes a lot of the burden of having to do everything off LeBron, making him fresh for when the Lakers need him most in the postseason. The Bulls star can play with or without the ball, giving James a reliable weapon who can make plays for himself.

Should Chicago be willing to discuss options pertaining to LaVine with the Lakers, this may be the best chance to put themselves in a position to succeed once James is ready to retire. LaVine would be in purple and gold for the foreseeable future and would finally be able to showcase his talent on an organization that is prioritizing winning. If the price is right and the Lakers are at peace with the idea of giving up a handful of the players listed above, they can make a trade with the Bulls work by the time LaVine is ready to return, something that seems just too good to be true.