Zach LaVine’s future with the Bulls has reportedly been decided and a strange roster “reload” could be coming soon
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Wednesday that the Bulls have made up their mind on Zach LaVine. Cowley also reported in the article that the Bulls are looking to “reload” the roster, which kind of sounds like another rebuild.
The Chicago Bulls are ‘focused’ on unloading Zach LaVine and reloading the roster on the fly, per @JCowleyHoops
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 17, 2024
The consistently confusing Zach LaVine saga
This news of a LaVine trade isn’t too surprising, if you have kept up on the last season and a half of Bulls basketball. The relationship between Zach LaVine and the Bulls brass hasn’t been perfect.
Last season LaVine had issues with the Bulls front office about his place in the organization. At the time multiple league sources reported that the two parties were not seeing “eye-to-eye.”
The issues continued as the Bulls shopped LaVine in the offseason, but found no suitable deals. The trade talks flamed out until after the 2023 season got underway.
The Bulls started out the 2023 season in horrendous fashion. Which included being the last team to lose to the Pistons before they went on their historic 28-game losing streak. During that rough stretch of games, Zach LaVine pushed a Bulls PR person out of his way after she tried to talk to him after a game. It was reported the next day that the Bulls front office was furious with LaVine after that incident, further souring the relationship.
Then Zach LaVine sustained a foot injury at the end of November, which sparked a Bulls resurgence.
With LaVine out, the Bulls looked and played like a completely different team. The most jarring difference was how Lavine’s absence seemed to ignite Coby White’s emergence into one of the best point guards in the NBA.
The Bulls had a win-loss record of 10-5 during the stretch of games LaVine missed. Beating teams like the Bucks, Heat, 76ers, and Lakers. This was a major improvement over the month of November, in which the Bulls went 4-12.
During the Bulls hot streak in December the trade rumors around Zach LaVine and the Bulls swirled again. But because of his injury and the Bulls seemingly being better without him, any trade interest quickly evaporated.
Then on January 5th, LaVine returned to action. Since then the Bulls are 4-2 with LaVine on the court. He has looked much better than he did earlier this season. LaVine has been playing much better on the defensive end of the court as of late. He has also looked to facilitate to his teammates more, which is a far cry from his typical iso heavy approach on offense.
Now we have arrived at the present day, and the news of the Bulls being focused on moving Zach LaVine.
Why trade LaVine after his solid return?
The Bulls are likely looking to move LaVine now because his solid play has re-piqued the interest of several teams around the NBA. Another factor in this desire to reload the roster could be the increased trade activity in the Eastern Conference. Teams like the Knicks, Raptors, and Pacers have been active in the trade market during the past few weeks. Perhaps this has inspired the Bulls front office to make some moves of their own.
What does a “reload” mean?
It means two things, the Bulls brass think the foundation of the team is solid. Who do they consider the foundation? It isn’t entirely clear. However, their future plans clearly don’t involve Zach LaVine.
Another player the Bulls could move is DeMar DeRozan. While he has still been playing solid basketball, DeRozan is on an expiring contract. And he has not been able to agree with the front office on an extension.
The Bulls could also look to move Nikola Vucevic, who has struggled to find consistency. Vucevic has been in and out of the lineup this season. In his playing time he has been able to score points in bunches on certain nights, but has been very ineffective defensively.
It would be difficult for the Bulls to move Zach LaVine, his contract is a tough one to work around but not impossible. If the Bulls look to move one or more of the three players listed above, they need to look at getting draft capital in return. The Bulls are very shallow when it comes to draft capital, adding a few draft picks would be helpful.
Whatever happens with LaVine and this incoming “reload” is sure to divide Bulls fans. One thing will unite every Bulls fan, being tired of “reloading” and rebuilding. The Chicago Bulls have been in a nearly endless rebuild since Michael Jordan last brought the Larry O’Brian to Chicago in 1998. There was only a short span with Derrick Rose, Joaquim Noah and crew in which the Bulls were actually competitive.
The Bulls have a great young point guard in Coby White they can build around. If the ownership can’t put a competitive team on the court, Coby White and the Bulls of the 2020’s will be another painful what if in the franchises history.
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