Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls are on the same page in their interest to explore a trade, leaving the door opened wider for the New York Knicks to make a play for the sharpshooting former All-Star.
Could the Knicks make a trade for Zach Lavine?
As Shams Charania of The Athletic reported via Twitter, LaVine and the Bulls are on the verge of parting ways as the franchise is in the midst of yet another down season with their big-three experiment failing:
Bubbling Frustrations With the Offense an Added Cause For LaVine Wanting Out
LaVine addressed the media after the Bulls’ loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their season opener and said that they did not ‘play with enough heart’ as they started the season off terribly.
LaVine was not the only player to voice complaints. He, along with fellow former All-Star teammate Nikola Vucevic reportedly caused a stir for the lack of growth in the Bulls’ offensive scheme, which raised the eyebrows of head coach Billy Donovan, who had this to say, via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic:
“The one thing I think was good with some of the heated conversations and confrontation is that would have never happened last year,” Donovan said. “Ever. They would have been a quiet group. So the confrontation piece is a sign that it’s important to them and that they know there’s things we’ve got to do better.”
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It Seems Like It’s Time to Break Up The Bulls’ Big 3
While locker room flare-ups usually lead to turnarounds in team performances, that was not the case for the Bulls as they’ve gone 4-6 since addressing their displeasures back on Oct. 25. The trio of LaVine, Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan has simply not gotten the job done in their four years together.
LaVine and DeRozan are 25-point per game scorers with a 20-10 double-double threat in Vucevic providing balance to the offense on the inside and the perimeter. Yet, with the offensive firepower generally seen in championship contenders, they’ve only seen the first round of the playoffs once, and never any further.
The Knicks Would Have a Tough Decision in Offering Red-Hot RJ Barrett For LaVine
The Knicks are in pursuit of strengthening their star core, and not compromising firepower for firepower. Jalen Brunson figures to be the player most likely to not see himself involved in a trade package for LaVine with a thin rotation at floor general, while franchise player Julius Randle has led the charge for the Knicks since 2021.
That would leave RJ Barrett as the biggest draw for the Bulls. However, Barrett is enjoying the best season of his career. He’s made good on his offseason goals of shooting better from the field, three-point line and charity stripe. Barrett has seen a 10.8 percent jump in his free throw shooting (84.8 percent), a 5.3 percent increase with his 48.7 percent field goal clip, and is dialing in a stunning 50 percent of his 5.7 three-point attempts a night.
Seeing that he’s been the Knicks’ best player through nine games and is showing that his production has the potential to maintain throughout the season, a swap for LaVine would give New York a more bonafide scorer and shooter with clutch time prowess, but deprive the Knicks of seeing how far Barrett’s ceiling reaches. Should Barrett regress back to his mean, he’d make for a perfect trade centerpiece.
An Offer For LaVine That Work on The Books and in Furthering The Knicks’ All-Star Core
Contractually, LaVine is under contract until 2026-27, where he’ll make upwards of $40 million from now until then. The Knicks would have the chance to finally unload Evan Fournier’s remaining $37.8 million over the next two seasons and give the Bulls a veteran scorer that can still contribute in a starting or bench role.
Josh Hart is now eligible to be dealt and makes for a valued trade asset that would work wonders as a playmaker for the Bulls. Centering the deal around Quentin Grimes and an assortment of draft picks would give the Bulls youth, veteran experience and an ability to rebuild should they move off of DeMar DeRozan as well.