As much as they may want to make arguments to the contrary, Zach LaVine and Rich Paul haven’t exactly been subtle about their intentions when it comes to a trade. From the same agency that brought you “That’s all folks!” with Anthony Davis, they’ve deployed a similar strategy with LaVine.
Whether it’s showing up in “Be Klutch” shirts together or doing a media scrum postgame about things not going your way in an LA hat, it’s hard not to read into all of it.
"It sucks when things aren't going your way. But you gotta figure out how to get over it." pic.twitter.com/b20DGyOX7u— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 16, 2023
Rich Paul, though, wants you to know that this is all just a coincidence and he’s not trying to get LaVine to the Lakers.
In a piece for Sam Amick of The Athletic, Paul discussed the rumors or notion that LaVine only wants to go to the Lakers.
“It’s not one team,” Paul told The Athletic regarding the LaVine situation. “I don’t have a specific destination for Zach. I want what’s best for Zach and his family. When you have a guy playing the game, you want him to be able to play the game happy, whether that’s in Chicago or somewhere else.”
As Paul shared, he has clients on 24 of the 30 teams in the Association (including four on the current Lakers team). The point is that his agency didn’t grow to its current state by prioritizing one team over all others. As it relates to LaVine, who hasn’t played since Nov. 28 because of inflammation in his right foot and is expected to miss several more weeks, Paul said it remains to be seen if he’ll be on the move.
“In the event the Bulls decide they would like to go a different direction with the team, and it involves Zach, then I’m sure we’ll have conversations to get clarity on what’s best for both sides,” Paul said. “Until then, the goal is to get healthy and return ready to go.”
Paul can say that, and there’s at least some truth to it. But it’s also a bit silly to think the man who played at UCLA, has previously said he’s always been a fan of the Lakers and reportedly has the Lakers as one of his “preferred” landing spots isn’t trying to get to Los Angeles.
Those ideas aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe he is open to all 30 teams but there’s one that they’re sending all sorts of smoke signals out for. The bad news for Paul, LaVine and Klutch is that the Lakers don’t seem to have the same level of interest as them in making a deal happen.
For one, Austin Reaves’ name has repeatedly come up as a rumored name the Bulls would want...and one that has been shot down as a player the Lakers would include. In fact, the Lakers sound more focused on getting healthy and seeing what they have with their current roster than pursuing any big trade.
Perhaps the messages are going to have be even less subtle to really start to force the Lakers hand. Even then, though, it doesn’t seem like this is a deal in the works right now, no matter how much Paul does or doesn’t want it.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.