It took a while, but the Chicago Bulls and Zach LaVine have finally started the arduous process of trading the two-time All-Star. With many NBA GMs in Chicago on Tuesday for the opening night of the college basketball season, The Athletic reported, there’s now an increased willingness between the two parties to explore a trade.
Zach LaVine could change the championship landscape
LaVine is one of the league’s more recognizable stars. He’s a high-flying, high-volume scorer who can score with efficiency from all three levels. His pure basketballing talent is tremendous, but he isn’t without warts. He has never developed into a sophisticated passer capable of running an offense for long swaths, his defense is poor, and he carries significant injury concerns over his surgically repaired left knee.
However, there are precious few players capable of combining his level of scoring volume and efficiency, and his lack of overall on-ball skill might be a selling point for some teams. LaVine is at his best playing off the ball, which should allow him to fit seamlessly next to another ball-dominant star as the second or third option on a devastating offense.
Zach LaVine's trade value may be underwhelming to Bulls fans
There will be no shortage of suitors for LaVine, but the overall package to land him may disappoint Bulls fans. LaVine is a good, but not great, player, and he’s on the books for three more seasons after this at $43 million, $46 million, and has a $48.9 million player option for 2026-27. With where the cap is projected, those aren’t backbreaking figures, but they’re also not a steal.
A good starting point for any LaVine trade is the Suns’ trade for Bradley Beal.
Beal is a good, but not great, shooting guard on a larger-than-ideal contract with injury concerns. The total package to land him was four first-round pick swaps, six second-round picks, Chris Paul’s expiring contract, and Landry Shamet.
Pick swaps are not first-round picks. In some cases, they’re nothing, and in others, they move you up a few slots in the draft. Pick swaps are not nothing, but they’re the flimsiest of assets and feel more like a public relations exercise than an exchange of tangible value. It’s impossible to exactly say what four swaps and six second-round picks equate to, but it’s probably worth somewhere around two unprotected first-round picks.
For any team trading for LaVine, they’ll believe the $40 million in matching salary and around two first-round picks should be market value. They’re taking on the remainder of his deal, freeing up future flexibility for the Bulls, and are compensating them with players and assets. It isn’t the king’s ransom that Kevin Durant demanded, but LaVine is less a king and more a knight.