We Tried To Find Four Possible Trades For Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine is very much available right now. The problem is, the former All-Star guard isn’t apparently on anyone’s wishlist at the moment.

The Chicago Bulls have been aggressively shopping LaVine, but as of this moment, they’ve failed to find anyone who’s even been willing to engage on serious trade talks. There have been reports the Bulls are needing to attach picks to LaVine to move him, and the Golden State Warriors reportedly turned down the chance to flip Andrew Wiggins and Chris Paul for him, preferring instead to simply waive Paul’s non-guaranteed deal and slide under the first apron.

As a result, we are in a place where LaVine is still in Chicago and very well might start the season there. The Bulls made it clear their goal this summer was to trade him, but if their choices are salary dumps or letting him start the year, prove he’s healthy, and build some value back, they might choose the latter. However, things can change quickly and once the dust settles on some other moves around the league, I think some team will end up feeling left out of the summer’s game of musical chairs and might suddenly find a bit more of a desire to bring in LaVine that might swing a bit more leverage back the way of the Bulls. Once his (likely soon-to-be former) teammate DeMar DeRozan finds his next home, and we find out the futures of Brandon Ingram and Lauri Markkanen, we still could have a couple teams that feel the need to be a contender but missed out on a big summer deal. Alternatively, a team in a rebuild (but past the tanking stage) may decide they’ll buy low on LaVine, and hope he can help them take a leap into playoff contention.

Los Angeles Lakers

With LeBron James taking his max (or at least, very close to it) deal in free agency, the Lakers options for upgrading the roster are…minimal. They will probably take a look at a DeRozan sign-and-trade first, as that should be an easier contract to match, but if the Lakers miss there, they could find themselves fairly desperate to add a big name. Enter LaVine.

Making the money work is the biggest issue here, as the Lakers would have to cobble together a collection of contracts to match LaVine’s $43 million. D’Angelo Russell would almost certainly be involved, but there are two different pairs that work financially: Rui Hachimura and Jalen Hood-Schifino, or Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt. While I know the Lakers value Hachimura, I’d think they’d rather send out two rotation players than three in this deal. If the goal is to add some more scoring punch and make a splash to keep their two lead stars happy, this is certainly an avenue for them to do that.

UPDATE: My cap guy (aka a friend who does this stuff and text me) told me my initial trade concepts, which technically work and are allowed in the trade machine, couldn’t happen because of the apron rules as the Lakers would be taking back more than they sent out and thus get hard-capped. As such, the only thing that works financially is D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt or Gabe Vincent which, let’s be honest, the Lakers aren’t doing that.

The Trade
Lakers get: Zach LaVine
Bulls get: D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt

Los Angeles Clippers

The other L.A. team also could be in a similar position, as they’ve had to pivot their summer plans after Paul George’s departure for Philadelphia. They’ve signed Derrick Jones Jr., Nic Batum, Kris Dunn, and Mo Bamba to fill out their roster, but none of those players will replace the scoring punch lost with George leaving. They could, like the Lakers, explore a DeRozan deal, but LaVine is, to me, the better basketball fit — just a more costly financial one.

Steve Ballmer has never been afraid of making a bold move, and with a new building opening up this fall, I’m not sure the Clippers will want to go into this upcoming season without some buzz. You can certainly debate whether LaVine makes them an actual contender, but it would create at least a little excitement and anticipation, and it’s not hard to figure out the financial part of the equation.

The Trade
Clippers get: Zach LaVine
Bulls get: Norman Powell, Terance Mann, PJ Tucker

Miami Heat

The Miami Heat are always lurking when it comes to stars on the trade market and we know they’ve been willing to chase a big-money guard. The question is whether that is still the case after how last season went and with Jimmy Butler’s future with the franchise beyond next season being uncertain. In this scenario, the ask will be much less than last time they went star-hunting and came up short on Damian Lillard. Instead, it’s a matter of whether they view LaVine as enough of an upgrade over Tyler Herro to be willing to swap the two (plus Duncan Robinson to make the money work).

We know from his exit interview that Pat Riley isn’t exactly thrilled with Herro’s availability issues, but then again, acquiring LaVine isn’t going to take away injury concerns at the two-guard spot. Still, the highs from LaVine in his career are higher than Herro’s to this point, and perhaps they want to take one more real swing with the Butler-Bam Adebayo pairing. Also, if the Bulls were to part with a pick in a LaVine trade, this would probably be the one they’d feel best about doing so in, as Herro presents the best replacement for LaVine they could hope to get for $14 million less. They’d probably try to get away with Portland’s 2025 pick that’s lotto protected (and thus, likely to turn into future seconds instead).

The Trade
Heat get: Zach LaVine, Jevon Carter, 2025 Blazers first (lottery protected)
Bulls get: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson

Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets aren’t a good team, but with LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller, I don’t think they plan on being one of the NBA’s worst either (if they can stay healthy). If you were to slot Zach LaVine in between those two, you could create an extremely potent offense. Defense might be an adventure with a Ball-LaVine backcourt, but you could at least steer into the skid by having a group that wants to push the pace and add another high-level scorer and shooter.

Charlotte also can afford to take on LaVine’s salary without it being completely crippling to their future flexibility, as he’d come off the books the year a Miller extension would kick in. At worst, they could hope to rehab LaVine’s value around the league and flip him for actual assets when he’s closer to being an expiring (and when the cap spikes and that contract isn’t taking up quite as much space). If the Bulls are in fact desperate to move off of LaVine this summer, and none of the above teams feel moved to get in the mix without taking back a draft asset Chicago doesn’t want to part with, the Hornets might be the kind of team that would have the desire to land such a player without demanding a pick in return. The Bulls wouldn’t likely get much back, but they could get some serious cap relief for the future with a Grant Williams and Davis Bertans return package.

The Trade
Hornets get: Zach LaVine
Bulls get: Grant Williams, Davis Bertans