As the struggling Bulls are in search of direction, star guard Zach LaVine reportedly wants to head west.
In mid-November, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that there was “increased openness” between the Bulls and LaVine about exploring a trade. And while LaVine has been linked to a few teams, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports “multiple sources said LaVine and his representation obviously want Los Angeles.”
LaVine, who is represented by Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul, shares an agent with Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With LaVine reportedly looking to join his Klutch teammates in Los Angeles, would it be in the Lakers’ best interest to pursue Chicago’s prolific guard?
How Zach LaVine would fit with the Lakers
LaVine would help remedy some of the Lakers’ biggest issues on the offensive end. Through 25 games this season, Los Angeles’ offense is among the bottom 10 in the league, as the team’s offensive rating (112.1) falls below that of the Hornets and Rockets.
Part of the reason why Los Angeles’ offense has struggled is due to a serious lack of shooting — the Lakers rank 28th in made 3s per game with James’ 2.3 3s leading the way for the team, followed by D’Angelo Russell, who hits 2.1 3s per contest.
In seven seasons with the Bulls, LaVine has canned 2.7 3s per game at a 38.3 percent clip, figures that would have a great chance of increasing if he played alongside a playmaker of James’ caliber. Through 18 games this season, LaVine is averaging 21.0 points per game despite shooting a career-low 33.6 percent from deep, a testament to how gifted he is as a scorer.
LaVine’s natural scoring ability would inject life into an offense that often struggles to manufacture enough points. Just as he would benefit from playing alongside Davis and James, LA’s established duo would benefit from the spacing that LaVine would provide with his offensive skill set.
Adding a 28-year-old who is just two years removed from an All-Star selection is an enticing prospect for the Lakers, who could form a big three that elevates them to another level of contention in the West.
What may give the Lakers pause, however, is that LaVine is not known for his defensive presence.
As much as LA could improve offensively, it boasts one of the NBA’s top 10 defenses, thanks largely to the team’s schemes and ability to swarm opposing guards. LaVine doesn’t exactly fit within that defensive identity.
What does work in the Lakers’ favor is the fact that players like Davis, Taurean Prince, Jarred Vanderbilt and, to a different extent, James are good enough defensively to make up for some of LaVine’s limitations. The defensive drop-off may not be as noticeable as it would be if he were to be traded somewhere other than Los Angeles.
It is also worth acknowledging that LaVine has had his fair share of injury issues in the past. He appeared in 77 of 82 games during the 2022-23 season but has already missed seven games this season due to right foot inflammation and is expected to be sidelined through at least the beginning of January.
Can the Lakers trade for Zach LaVine?
Yes, the Lakers can execute a trade for LaVine, but the path to do so becomes much clearer on Jan. 15, when another group of players that signed contracts during the offseason become eligible to be traded.
LaVine, who is under contract through 2025-26 and has a player option for the 2026-27 season, is earning a base salary of just over $40 million this year. To match salary, Los Angeles would likely try to execute a deal around Russell ($17.3 million) and Rui Hachimura ($15.7 million), completing the package with enough to match salary and likely adding draft compensation as a sweetener.
The Lakers are reported to have no interest in moving Austin Reaves, who, along with Hachimura, is not eligible to be traded until Jan. 15.
In short, if the Lakers are expected to act upon LaVine’s reported interest, it won’t likely come until the new year. By then, there will be a greater understanding of where LA stands in the Western Conference and whether or not Chicago is capable of staying in the postseason hunt.
Source : ESPN.com