All of last season, the Los Angeles Lakers were linked with Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine in trade rumors. The Chicago Bulls have started this season off with a 4-7 record and with player-only meetings and despair surrounding the team’s poor start, it appears they may be the first team to become sellers, according to a report from Shams Charania of the Athletic on Tuesday.
NBA teams are probing the availability of two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine and there’s been increased openness from the organization and player about exploring a trade, league sources said. Here’s what you need to know:
Many of the NBA’s 30 general managers are in Chicago on Tuesday for the annual Champions Classic, the major opening night of the college basketball season, and this is where conversations could begin.
The Lakers are in a vastly different scenario now than last season when the interest in LaVine seemed apparent. Should the Lakers still pursue him?
Deciding to pursue LaVine creates a similar risk to the Lakers they just went through during the Russell Westbrook trade. You’d have to mortgage the picks and players you deem valuable to match salaries to pull the trade-off.
In the best-case scenario, this gives the Lakers that third star they have, at times, pursued during the LeBron James and Anthony Davis tenure. LaVine, offensively, is a superb scorer and ball-handler who could give the Lakers the ability to rest James more and get him closer to that 30-minute-per-game mark they discussed at the start of the season.
The Bulls All-Star can take over games on his own and, even paired with just Davis, could provide the Lakers with enough to win games sans James occasionally — a luxury it appears this roster is currently incapable of.
The other side to that coin is the Westbrook trade, to a tee. The Lakers go all in on a flawed star who is a traffic cone on defense and has lost enough athletically not to be the player he once was. And with giving up all your assets, there is no turning back and you repeated the mistakes of yore by once again gambling away good assets in hopes of a larger return.
Despite Chicago’s struggles, LaVine has been having a productive season averaging 21.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and three assists per game. If he can produce similarly alongside James and Davis it would make him far and away the Lakers third best offensive weapon and that appeal might be too tempting for Los Angeles to walk away from if Chicago is willing to deal.
Rob Pelinka and the Lakers must proceed with tremendous caution if they go for this kind of move. They have to consider the potential consequences and understand the worst-case scenario is just as likely as the best one.
The good news is the team does not need to move hastily. The Lakers do not have tradeable assets they can even move until December 15 and the trade deadline isn’t until February 8. It also doesn’t seem like teams are in a bidding war to pick off the carcass that is the Chicago Bulls.
Sometimes, the best move you can make is the one you choose not to. The Lakers can aim to get healthy and see how the team performs through the following months while monitoring the situation in Chicago along with other teams around the league.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.