At the beginning of the 2021-22 season, it was a foregone
conclusion Zach LaVine would eventually re-sign with the Chicago
Bulls on a max contract. However, over the last month or so,
there’s been buzz about LaVine potentially taking his talents
Does it actually make sense for LaVine to leave the Bulls, an
infrastructure well built to accentuate his strengths? If LaVine
bolts the Windy City for greener pastures, the fit, not market
size, should be of the upmost importance.
The market will be robust for LaVine as an upcoming unrestricted
free agent, slotted at No. 1 overall on BasketballNews.com's
Free Agent Rankings page. LaVine
joining a contender would instantly vault its status amongst the
Without further ado, let’s go ahead and try to figure out the
best logical fits for LaVine away from Chicago via
Miami’s dire need for another aggressive scorer to pair
alongside Jimmy Butler was showcased on the biggest possible stage.
The usage on Butler’s plate is simply too much, and Kyle Lowry has
proven to taken a step back on the offensive end as well.
LaVine alongside Butler, Lowry and Bam Adebayo would be a dream
scenario to unfold for the Heat. This offseason feels like the
perfect time to make that all-in move with this core, especially
with future draft picks available in deals.
Herro is the crown jewel of this deal for the Bulls, so it all
depends how they view him. Tucker going back to Chicago also adds
even more toughness on the defensive end with Lonzo Ball and Alex
For contenders, pulling off a sign-and-trade to acquire LaVine
is a little tricky. A third team would need to be involved to make
salaries work; in this instance, that franchise takes on the
bloated salary of Robinson and is rewarded with draft compensation
for its participation. Look for teams with cap space that are
rebuilding (Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder, etc.) as
potential dance partners under any sign-and-trade involving LaVine
to a Finals contender.
Projected Starting Lineup: Kyle Lowry, Zach LaVine, Max
Strus, Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo
Could you imagine the fireworks on the scoreboard with Trae
Young and LaVine sharing a backcourt? That’s more than worth the
price of admission for Hawks games, and it helps elevate their core
to being a legitimate contender immediately. LaVine and Young being
flanked by endless amounts of defensive versatility and length is a
recipe for success.
What makes the Hawks’ sign-and-trade more realistic is
Gallinari’s contract, which only has $5 million guaranteed. Atlanta
would surely cooperate for draft compensation in order to bring
Chicago receives a promising three-level scorer in Huerter, plus
a much-needed rim protector with Okongwu. This feels like a strong
return for the Bulls under this scenario.
For Atlanta to make this work, a third team has to get involved
that can absorb Gallinari's $21 million salary. Luckily, again,
only $5 million is guaranteed, so the third team can easily get off
his contract. The Pacers are mentioned here once more because I
expect them to operate in a Thunder-like manner this offseason, as
they really kick off their full-scale rebuild. Expect to see
Indiana take on contracts for future draft capital, which would
help project the rebuild timeline more clearly.
Trail Blazers receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., 2025
first-round pick via Dallas (top-8 protected)
Luka Doncic needs help in Dallas for championships to be a
realistic aspiration. Doncic is already one of the best players in
the league at 23 years old, but how will the Mavericks further
construct the roster around him? If Dallas is indeed going to make
a splash, going for LaVine compared to a big man like Rudy Gobert
is the smarter play. Doncic and LaVine would be a deadly backcourt
duo that could go toe-to-toe with any team in a more
The Bulls receiving Brunson back in a double sign-and-trade
would be a huge win, allowing his game to further blossom alongside
an elite wing scorer like DeMar DeRozan. Brunson helps keep Chicago
afloat in the Eastern Conference, while also presenting an enticing
long-term piece to its core.
While Brunson would need to sign off on this, as would LaVine, I
think he would gladly pursue this idea. Operating as the No. 2
scoring option alongside DeRozan, Brunson will be able to further
blossom his all-around game for a win-now contender in the East.
Adding Brunson alongside Ball and Caruso also takes playmaking
pressure off Brunson, which allows him to continue mismatch hunting
in 1-on-1 situations.
If the Bulls are on track to lose LaVine, finding an even more
motivated Brunson as the return compensation is a massive win for
The third team getting involved to take on Hardaway's remaining
salary is Portland, who needs to find any sort of scoring help it
can alongside Lillard. Hardaway certainly wouldn't be a splashy
transaction for the Blazers, but his added offensive punch in the
starting unit or off the bench would be a welcome sight. Trying to
find a taker for THJ will be tough, so offering a future lightly
protected first-round pick probably is the going cost.
We’ve now reached the portion where a team can outright sign
LaVine without having to maneuver a sign-and-trade. How ironic
would it be for LaVine to go join DeRozan’s former team alongside
fellow Pacific Northwest resident Dejounte Murray? That’s a very
strong complementary backcourt, but is it enough in the Western
Conference to make a serious jump forward? We all know Spurs head
coach Gregg Popovich would be all aboard a win-now idea at this
stage of his career as well.
For the Spurs, they need to find that final piece to an already
intriguing core. Murray and LaVine leading the Spurs' youth
movement forward towards realistic playoff contention each year
would be a much-needed step forward. LaVine's arrival would take
ample pressure off Murray, plus the latter's defensive presence
helps further optimize the former.
Portland could be under new ownership, and the frontrunners as
of Thursday indicate it could be a huge win for the organization.
Nike founder Phil Knight and Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Alan
Smolinisky are leading the charge, so we’ll see if that occurs
On the court, Damian Lillard would love having a player like
LaVine. A modern three-guard starting unit consisting of Lillard,
LaVine and Anfernee Simons would simply be unfair trying to contain
for all 48 minutes.
Let's say Portland pulls the trigger for an aggressive
draft-night move involving Grant or Raptors wing OG Anunoby. If
that occurs, it's the Blazers signaling to the NBA that they're
ready to have a very aggressive offseason. Retooling on the fly and
forming a deadly backcourt combination would quickly put Portland
back on the map in the West.
Portland would need to gut their entire roster outside of
Lillard and Simons to make an Anunoby/LaVine scenario possible
under the salary cap. It's a lot of transactional work, but the end
result for the Blazers would be an instant threat to make a deep
postseason push with Lillard, LaVine, Simons and Anunoby.
Less than a month away from the NBA’s legal tampering period
opening, LaVine will become one of the hottest commodities
available. Unless LaVine believes the Bulls are not real
contenders, it would make the most sense for him to return on a new
long-term deal. If it gets to the point we’ve discussed, the Bulls
will be okay extracting heavy amounts of value for a player on the
NBA free agency was expected to be quiet, but, as we all know,
the game never sleeps. Anything can happen, and this offseason is
shaping up to be another wild one with star movement soon on the
horizon once more.
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