Despite the Chicago Bulls’ recent surge, they are still looking to improve their team and have made it known that Zach LaVine is still available. However, Joe Crowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that with the trade market remaining cold for LaVine, there is a real possibility that he will remain with the team throughout this season.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. There have been rumors that LaVine has been on the market since last February and no takers. It was reported that Chicago had been seeking a ransom in return for LaVine.
However, Chicago’s turned up their efforts to deal LaVine after losing nine of their first 14 games to start the season and being informed that his representatives were open to him being traded. But the Bulls still have not received a legitimate offer, despite LaVine being linked to the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, among other teams.
NBA Rumors: Zach LaVine Has Been Linked To Several Teams But May Finish Season With The Bulls
In his Bleacher Report article today, Kevin Conway mentioned that the Sacramento Kings are among the other teams believed to be interested in LaVine. Conway said the Kings reportedly talked to the Bulls about a deal involving Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes heading to Chicago.
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype recently indicated the Bulls have a “level of interest” in Huerter, who has struggled in his second season with the Kings.
While Barnes to the Bulls is a little intriguing, he was handed a three-year deal for $54 million this summer, which was way above market value. Huerter is just too inconsist. This deal will only make sense for Chicago if Sacramento includes multiple valuable draft picks, as the Bulls are currently playing well.
Chicago is ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 17-21 record. The Bulls have won two straight and 11 of their last 18.
Why Hasn’t LaVine Been Traded?
Part of Chicago’s problem with finding a trade partner is that LaVine missed a little over a month with a foot injury. He has struggled in his two games since coming back from the injury. The fact that LaVine is still owed over $170 million over the next four years doesn’t help.
Since returning to action this past Friday, LaVine has yet to find any rhythm coming off the bench. He has totaled 24 in the two games, both wins over Charlotte, though he has made just 8 of 19 shot attempts (42.1%), including 3 of 11 (27.7%) from beyond the arc. During this stretch, the 28-year-old combo guard has compiled nine assists, eight boards, and four turnovers in these contests.
Make no mistake, LaVine is sensational on the offensive end as he is an elite scorer and shooter. He still possesses elite-level athleticism and likes to get to the rim, where he is an outstanding finisher. He is an average ball-handler and distributor. LaVine doesn’t rebound and is an average defender.
The biggest question surrounding LaVine is does he impact winning?
Chicago has made the postseason twice in the last six years, with both coming in the previous two seasons, the only times the Bulls have won 40 games. The Bulls have a .415 winning percentage in the 369 games that LaVine has appeared, including posting a 7-13 record this year.
So, if the Bulls can’t find a trader partner, does LaVine want to be a Bull? According to head coach Billy Donovan, he does.
“Yeah, In my conversations with Zach — and again, he’s never really talked about his future, his feelings toward the organization and the team, never anything like that — everything he’s talked about is: How does he help the group? And it’s always been really positive, constructive conversations with him.
“I know there is a lot of reporting and things that were out there about what potentially may or may not happen, but my conversations with him leading into his return was he needed to come in and help the group any way he could.”
Helping the team is one thing LaVine has done over the last two games. While LaVine has had his difficulty offensively, he has shown out defensively. LaVine locked down the Hornets’ Terry Rozier down the stretch of the Bulls’ overtime win on Monday.
“Missing 17, 18 games, I don’t want to come in and force anything,” LaVine said after the victory. “If I come in with the mindset to shoot open shots, push in transition, try and make a play for someone else — obviously I’ve got a track record for knowing how to put the ball in the hoop, [and] that will come eventually. But [I can] make an impact defensively.”