Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
LOS ANGELES --- How low might the Chicago Bulls go? How badly do they desire to move off the remaining $138 million over the next three seasons on Zach LaVine’s contract?
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The next two weeks may provide that answer. It also, of course, may not because, to this point, only one known team has even engaged on initial dialogue with the Bulls, who, with now LaVine’s agreement, have been shopping him for months.
And multiple reports say that even the Detroit Pistons, that one known team, are unsure if they’ll follow through with an opportunity to land LaVine. But what if they do? What if they get serious between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline?
What might a LaVine-to-the-Pistons trade look like? The Bulls, sources said, already have been told what The Athletic’s James Edwards III initially reported---that the Pistons have no desire to trade any of their young building blocks in Cade Cunningham, Ausar Thompson, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren.
And while the Pistons haven’t yet fully decided if they’d part with Bojan Bogdanovic, he’d certainly have to be in the deal from a Bulls’ perspective. The forward would be a fit from a shooting and positional perspective for a guard-heavy roster and add financial flexibility because only $2 million of his $19 million---which is still a bargain---for next season is guaranteed.
So assuming the Croatian sharpshooter is one piece in any potential trade, here are three other options that could make sense if the Bulls fall into a "take the best offer" mindset they have yet to reach.
Bogdanovic, Joe Harris and draft capital
If the Pistons don’t want to part with any of their four young building blocks, doing so with draft capital may be a tough sell as well. Especially because they already owe a protected first-round pick to the New York Knicks.
But if you can’t get a first-round pick, which the Bulls obviously should ask for, second-round picks---which the Bulls own precious of---are close to being late first-round picks given where the Pistons' rebuild stands.
Harris is an expiring contract. So you could add Bogdanovic to keep the play-in/late playoff berth dream alive, add some draft capital and pocket some savings from getting off LaVine’s money and adding Harris’ expiring deal.
Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and draft capital
This balances the roster by adding a wing and power forward/undersized center. Stewart, 22, aligns with other young talent that is blossoming on the Bulls in Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu---with the hopes Patrick Williams still gets there---and adds toughness and physicality up front.
This package likely would attach a second-round pick since Stewart, unlike Harris, is a rotational player.
Bogdanovic, Monte Morris, Mike Muscala and draft capital
Morris and Muscala are on expiring deals and this move would allow the Bulls to shop Andre Drummond, whom league sources say is drawing interest from several teams.
Muscala hasn’t played in Detroit but has for the Wizards earlier this season and the Thunder and Celtics last season. Arturas Karnisovas worked for the Nuggets when Monte Morris hit as a second-round success. And in this package, you’d ask for a first-round pick that would have to be two years past whenever the one owed to the Knicks conveys.
The takeaway on all these deals is that these aren’t blockbuster offers. But let’s repeat the lead: How low might the Bulls go? How badly do they desire to move off the remaining $138 million over the next three seasons on LaVine’s contract?
Though there’s still time for this to change in advance of the Feb. 8 deadline, LaVine’s value is currently low. And the Bulls certainly could wait until the offseason to try to trade him. But these sides appear headed for a divorce.
It’s a question of when, not if---and of how low the Bulls might go.