Earlier this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst dropped a pre-free agency bomb, suggesting the Chicago Bulls may have some competition on the open market with Zach LaVine.
Apparently, the Portland Trail Blazers have “popped up as a potential landing spot” for the 27-year-old, which now makes things a bit more complicated.
Should the Bulls be worried about this? We wouldn’t go that far. LaVine is hitting free agency, so that’s the concern in general. Any team can reach out to him and make a pitch. The Blazers are among the least intimidating due to their current situation, but it’s another team involved nonetheless.
Additionally, Portland has $93 million committed to their payroll next season (with the ability to create more cap space) compared to the Bulls’ $100 million, which isn’t much more. With all of the holes the Blazers have on their roster compared to Chicago, it’s doubtful LaVine would be a top priority for them.
It’s also doubtful he’d view them as a viable destination given their abrupt fallout these last few years … right?
The latest on the Zach LaVine-Trail Blazers rumor shouldn’t worry the Bulls
LaVine has consistently voiced his desire to win, coupled with the obvious hope that he’s paid what he’s worth. Yup, the perfect situation that just about everyone wants. But knowing the competitor he is, it’s hard to envision him jettisoning what was the top team in the Eastern Conference for a large chunk of the 2021-2022 season for an aging Damian Lillard and likely bottom-feeding Portland squad (they finished 27-55 and ended the year on a 11-game losing streak).
On the other hand, the Bulls at least have a foundation for the next two seasons. DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso will all be in Chicago over that span. The Bulls also possess young talent in Patrick Williams, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. Not the most promising, but something to work with! And fans know how effective they can be when everyone’s healthy and the Bulls are operating at full capacity.
But most of all … the Blazers just witnessed their lack of success with two volume shooters and a lack of defense leading the charge. Are they about to replicate that model again? Meanwhile, the Bulls just need a mostly healthy season (and perhaps a new defensive-minded center) to be more seriously viewed as a championship contender.
If you’re going to be worried about any team stealing LaVine, focus your attention on the San Antonio Spurs, who have ample cap space as well as a good young core in place that’s already begun trying to recruit LaVine. Most other teams with cap space are so dreadful that LaVine would be crazy to even consider them. Meanwhile, the other good teams are in the negative and need to do ample financial maneuvering to pull a move of this magnitude off.
So, yeah, the Bulls are still very much in a good spot to retain arguably their best player.