Zach LaVine has been one of the brights spots in Chicago this season, putting up All-Star numbers: 27 points a game with a ridiculously efficient 64.2 true shooting percentage (hitting 39.7% from three).
But is LaVine part of the Bulls’ long-range plans? The Bulls have been outscored by 17.6 points per 100 possessions this season when he is on the court, with LaVine’s defense being part of Chicago’s issues on that end. He will be a free agent in the summer of 2022 and will want max money, do the Bulls want to pay it and build around him as a franchise anchor? If they do want to keep him, does LaVine want to stay?
If the answer to either of those questions is no, new team president Arturas Karsinovas needs to think LaVine trade at the deadline in March or this summer. If it comes to that, the Knicks are interested, reports Ian Begley at SNY.TV.
But as the 2021 trade deadline approaches, the Knicks are still keeping an eye on LaVine’s situation in Chicago, per SNY sources.
The Knicks are not the only team around the league keeping an eye on LaVine (Brooklyn had been interested, but after trading for James Harden they don’t need to add another ball dominant player who struggles to defend).
With the big names off the free agent market next summer — Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Paul George re-signed or extended with their current teams, with Kawhi Leonard expected to do the same — a lot of teams are looking at backup plans. LaVine can be that for some team — if he becomes available.
We need to be clear: The Bulls are in no way thinking of trading LaVine right now. From the well-connected K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:
And at least for now, word around the league is that the Bulls aren’t looking to move LaVine. Why would they? As you say, he’s playing on an All-Star level and on a value contract.
This season was always going to be an evaluation one for Karsinovas and staff. With quality coaching in place in the form of Billy Donovan, what do the Bulls have in house, how good are those players, and how do they want to build going forward?
Those answers — and whether they see LaVine as part of that future — likely come after the season. If the Bulls decide to move on from LaVine, there will be a team in New York that’s interested.