Report: Bulls ‘floated’ LaVine trade to 76ers, among other teams

LaVine, 76ers
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) dribbles the ball during the first half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

What a slop-filled Thursday this has turned out to be for Philadelphia 76ers fans. First, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko reports that the New Orleans Pelicans contacted the Sixers regarding a trade for Brandon Ingram. Now, there are more rumors between the Sixers and the Bulls regarding two-time All-Star Zach LaVine.

The latest comes from K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who mentioned the Sixers among several teams who the Bulls have “floated” trade proposals for LaVine:

“It’s why Zach LaVine’s future isn’t the only trade scenario that has been discussed, even if sources said Karnišovas has floated as many as 15 proposals centered on the two-time All-Star guard to various teams including the Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.”

This is far from the first time that Philadelphia has been contacted to the high-flying guard. It’s become something of a tradition, much like how Buddy Hield was once talked about before he was eventually acquired by the team this past season.

The Sixers have reportedly considered LaVine. Though, it sounds as though it’s more of a last act of desperation than anything else. Earlier in the offseason, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported on the potential of Philadelphia targeting a player “such as Zach LaVine,” citing an unnamed source:

“Striking out on a big-time wing would also leave the door open for Philadelphia to consider taking back a player such as Zach LaVine, sources said, in the event Chicago or another team is willing to attach draft capital to move off salary.”

While Fischer keeps it somewhat open-ended, he drives home the point that Philadelphia is not interested in emptying the war chest for Zach LaVine as he presents a multitude of red flags, including age, injury history, financial implications, defensive deficiencies, and more.

It’s apparent that Philadelphia is not the only team that has potentially recognized those flags, as evidenced by the Bulls initiating so many proposals with various teams across the league.

Philadelphia 76ers guard De’Anthony Melton (8) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, forward Derrick Jones Jr. and guard Alex Caruso (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

While LaVine is a fine player in a vacuum, averaging 24.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists over his seven years with the Bulls organization, the situation is far from that simple. A player who misses so much time and only appears on half the court when he does play is far from the ideal fit Philadelphia is looking for.

On top of that, LaVine’s cap hit, which comes in at just over $43.3 million this season, would make it quite difficult to add additional talent in free agency, leaving Philadelphia to rely on minimal cap space, the $8 million room exception, and veteran minimum deals. For a team with such grandiose designs for their offseason, they would become quite limited after such a deal.

Zach LaVine likely does not rank as high on the Sixers’ list as Paul George, or even Brandon Ingram for that matter, but there could very well be a breaking point where the organization feels they may have no better option. Should that situation arise, it is safe to say the offseason did not go according to plan for Philadelphia.

Convincing Chicago to include Alex Caruso or Ayo Dosunmu in a potential deal could improve the situation for Philadelphia, but there’s been no indication so far that the Bulls would be willing to do so.