Friday opens trading pool, but there’s still no market for Bulls’ Zach LaVine
A majority of the players who signed contracts over the summer will become eligible to be traded on Friday, but, even so, the Bulls are finding a very dry market for a LaVine deal. It’s not the ideal scenario for VP of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas.
There’s a fine line between patience and concern, and the Bulls’ front office is doing its best to straddle that line.
According to a source Wednesday, with many of the players who signed contracts during the summer eligible to be traded starting Friday, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is finding no real market interest in Zach LaVine.
Karnisovas isn’t believed to be concerned just yet, especially with so much time till the Feb. 8 trade deadline, but if moving LaVine drags on longer than he hopes, his plans would be altered significantly.
With the rest of the players who signed offseason deals eligible to be dealt after Jan. 15, Karnisovas ideally will have moved LaVine by or around that date, giving him at least 10 to 15 games to see what the post-LaVine Bulls look like and allowing him to make decisions on DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso.
Karnisovas has no interest in trading Caruso and is still keeping the possibility of reopening contract-extension talks with DeRozan and his camp on the table. He wants to watch how the assets he gets back for LaVine work with that group.
The Bulls have been linked to the Lakers and Raptors in the rumor mill, but multiple sources said LaVine and his representation obviously want Los Angeles because of the Klutch Sports connection.
Lakers who would be eligible to be moved Friday include Jaxson Hayes, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent and Christian Wood.
Of that group, a package featuring Russell has been thrown around the most in the rumor mill because of the money that has to come back. With LaVine making $40 million this season, Russell meets $17.3 million of it.
The other names being mentioned as possibilities in that package include Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and Vincent. Hachimura and Reaves, however, won’t be eligible to be moved until Jan. 15, and it didn’t sound like Reaves was even being mentioned by the Lakers.
A scenario in which the Bulls and LaVine stay together the rest of the season, then re-explore a new home for him next summer is unlikely.
Another source said that the relationship between LaVine and coach Billy Donovan, while still amicable, is broken from a professional standpoint, mostly on LaVine’s end. He would rather make ripples than waves but no longer wants to play for Donovan and really hasn’t wanted to since last season.
But what if the market starts to get serious in the next month, and Karnisovas is able to move LaVine and get back the ready-made players he desires to try to make a playoff push? That will be difficult to pull off and the Bulls still might remain a mediocre product, but it would allow the Bulls and DeRozan to make some decisions on his financial future.
DeRozan would be in favor of an extension with the Bulls if the money and situation are right for him, and Karnisovas can’t afford to have DeRozan leave this summer and get nothing in return.