Zach LaVine can get buckets — he averaged 25.5 points a game for the Bulls last season, shooting 38% from three — but can you build a winner around him? It’s one of the questions the new front office in Chicago has to ask; at the same time, LaVine is realizing he needs to do more to contribute to wins.
If things don’t work out in Chicago, the Knicks and Nets (among other teams) may be waiting in the wings. From Ian Begley of SNY.TV:
And it’s worth noting that both the Knicks and the Nets are among the teams who have been monitoring LaVine’s situation in Chicago. Per SNY sources, both teams have done background work on LaVine to be prepared for the possibility that Chicago ends up listening to trade offers on the 25-year-old guard.
LaVine is not going to be available soon (if ever), this more of a “let’s monitor it” situation for the New York teams. With a short offseason and a fluid salary cap situation next season, don’t expect Chicago to make trades, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
It’s early. But LaVine came to Chicago 2 weeks ago for positive visit with new regime and voluntary workouts at Advocate Center. And while teams always listen, new regime initially has been focused more on maximizing roster potential in advance of uncertain 20/21, ‘21 cap space. https://t.co/YaGOsHGUxD
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) July 24, 2020
Also, chalk the Zach LaVine to the Knicks rumors up to the “he was a former CAA client so new Knicks president Leon Rose wants him” school of thought. Which is not necessarily the case.
LaVine has a couple of years left on his current contract at a reasonable $19.5 million (the kind of contract GMs like to hold on to). More importantly, we don’t know what style of team new Bulls president Arturas Karnisovas wants to build. While Jim Boylen still has the job, for now, we don’t know who the long-term coach will be and how said person feels about LaVine. Then there are just the questions of roster fit: LaVine and Coby White backcourt would be offensively dynamic, but would it be good enough defensively to win games?
If the Bulls decide to go another direction, or if LaVine doesn’t like the new coach, the Bulls could test the trade market for LaVine. Then again, Chicago may decide LaVine is one of the players they need to build around. Either way, it’s likely next summer before we have a better idea of the future of Chicago and LaVine in it.
The Knicks need talent (and a coach, but that’s another discussion) and are on the lookout to trade for it. However, they will need to draft well and develop players — something previous New York administrations did not do well — to really turn the franchise around.