“The market for Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine still has been quiet, as interested teams remain reluctant to absorb the four seasons and roughly $180 million remaining on his contract,” wrote Jake Fischer. “LaVine is trending toward a return Friday from a weeks-long absence due to right foot inflammation. Perhaps a strong return to play, with the defensive effort he once showed for Team USA that intrigued NBA evaluators, could add some momentum for a LaVine deal. The struggling Lakers do forecast as the most sensible landing spot for the 28-year-old former All-Star, even though Los Angeles, too, has so far indicated a hesitancy to take on LaVine’s money, sources said.”
The Lakers have been linked to LaVine plenty of times this season as the Bulls consider whether to unload him after giving him a five-year maximum contract in July 2022.
He is averaging 21.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the 18 appearances he has been able to make this season. He has not played since Nov. 28 because of the foot injury.
With the NBA trade deadline next month, interest in the high-scoring guard could heat up again with his scheduled return to game action Friday against the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers could be in need of the jolt he might be able to provide as they are dealing with a difficult stretch and the fact that the season could be spiraling away from them.
Los Angeles has lost three games in a row heading into its meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Lakers have fallen below .500 with a 17-18 record after losing eight of their past 10 games and nine of 12 contests since capturing the NBA Cup as winners of the first In-Season Tournament back on Dec. 9.
The recent cold stretch has raised significant questions about the job security of head coach Darvin Ham. Though a high-ranking source within the organization is pushing back on the idea that Ham’s position could be in immediate jeopardy, he has been receiving some harsh criticism from the likes of ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins.
In addition, there have been reports of a “deepening disconnect” between Ham and the locker room. Austin Reaves, who is one of the players the Bulls reportedly would likely want in a trade for LaVine, recently described the mood surrounding the Lakers as “s—–.”
The Lakers may have had interest in LaVine even when things were going smoothly. Now that things aren’t, perhaps acquiring him even in spite of what may be a prohibitive cost could be something that helps break them out of the slump before it’s too late.