The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls will square off against each other on Wednesday night. The two teams have been frequently mentioned as potential trade partners with the Lakers reportedly interested in several Bulls players including DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine.
Ahead of the meeting between the teams, Lakers insider Jovan Buha and Bulls insider Darnell Mayberry discussed the latest on a potential deal between L.A. and Chicago. Mayberry remains optimistic that a deal will get done.
“All signs are pointing to these teams eventually finding common ground on a deal that works for both sides,” Mayberry wrote. “The fit as trade partners was apparent before. But as the season has progressed, it seems imperative that they come together on a trade.”
The prevailing assumption is that the Bulls will be sellers leading up to the trade deadline in February. At this point in the season, the Bulls are sitting outside of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference with a record of 11-17. They don’t appear poised to make a real run, and they could look to unload assets as a result.
Guys like LaVine, Caruso and DeRozan would surely draw plenty of interest if available. Any one of them could prove to be a valuable addition to a contending team such as the Lakers. However, Chicago’s penchant for overvaluing its own players could prove to be an obstacle in trade talks.
“The problem with that is Chicago’s front office has quickly developed a reputation for overvaluing their own in trade discussions,” Mayberry wrote. “It could be the biggest hurdle to a Bulls-Lakers blockbuster. To this point, Chicago has demanded top value for suboptimal parts. But after three failed seasons, time has run out on the Bulls’ belief in continuity. A trade is imminent. It’s just a matter of how sweet of a deal the Lakers can offer.”
The package that the Lakers are ultimately able to put together could be an issue for them when it comes to landing a player from the Bulls. There are 29 other teams in the league, and it seems likely that another team will be able to piece together a better package than L.A.
The Bulls will obviously be looking for the best possible return in any deal, and at this point, it remains to be seen if the Lakers can put together an offer that is intriguing enough to get a deal done. For those reasons, Buha is less optimistic that a deal will get done between the Bulls and Lakers than Mayberry is.
“Ultimately, I think a deal is less likely to happen than the recent buzz suggests,” Buha wrote. “Unless the Lakers are the only suitor for LaVine, there will be better offers on the table. I also don’t think the Lakers will meet the Bulls’ sky-high price for Caruso — if the Bulls even entertain trading him. DeRozan is the most realistic target, but the LaVine domino likely must fall first before the Bulls would consider moving DeRozan. And I think the haggling over [Austin] Reaves, pick protections and young assets could prevent the two sides from finding common ground.”
In the end, Buha thinks LaVine will either remain in Chicago or land somewhere outside of L.A.
“I’m skeptical that a deal gets done between these two franchises,” Buha wrote. “I think LaVine ends up staying put or going elsewhere.”
About two months into the current campaign, the Lakers sit eighth in the Western Conference standings with a record of 15-12. There’s still plenty of basketball left to play before the trade deadline in February, and the Lakers will likely use that time to assess the current state of their roster to decide just how desperate they need to be when it comes to adding talent in a trade.
Ultimately, a team other than the Bulls could emerge as a suitable trade partner for L.A. That remains to be seen. One thing is a certainty though: Lakers superstar forward LeBron James only has so much gas left in his tank, and L.A.’s front office needs to do everything possible to maximize the time while James is still playing at an elite level.