Bulls best Lakers, proving LA's LaVine package is inadequate

Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls
Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

All eyes were on the Chicago Bulls last night as they hosted LeBron James and the visiting Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls would be put to the test against the recently-crowned inaugural In-Season Tournament champions, but that wasn't the only reason this game was must-watch television. With trade rumors strongly hinting at the potential for Zach LaVine to be sent to LA in the near future, this game almost felt like an audition tape of sorts.

Fortunately, the Bulls managed just fine without their star shooting guard. Comfortably winning 124-108, Chicago won three of the game's four quarters thanks to their scorching 18-for-34 (52.9%) shooting from three-point range. Although the Bulls were outscored by 20 points in the paint, winning the rebounding battle and maintaining spacing for their shooters was enough to cruise past a quality team last night.

DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Bulls last night, dropping game-highs of 27 points and 9 assists on an incredible 12-for-16 shooting from the field. Even though Coby White suffered his first poor shooting performance in quite some time, the Bulls were able to rally together as a team to pull off the win.

Eight different Bulls players scored in the double digits. a stark contrast to the Lakers who only had five players contribute more than 5 points on the night. Even without Torrey Craig around to stretch the floor, Alex Caruso, Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmu, and Jevon Carter stepped up to score on 20 of their 34 combined shot attempts. As a result, the Bulls' deeper rotation simply outpaced a Lakers team stretched far too thin for their own good.

The Lakers must prepare a better offer if they want any chance of acquiring Zach LaVine from the Bulls.

The performances most worth watching, however, were those of LA's D'Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura. Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, the Lakers are likely to offer this pairing of players as well as draft compensation in any trade offers for LaVine. As such, they had big expectations to show out and improve their perceived value last night.

If the Lakers were hoping that the duo would improve their perceived trade value, things couldn't have gone any worse last night. Russell and Hachimura combined for a pathetic 7 points on 3-for-15 shooting as LaVine was forced to watch from the sidelines and witness his hopes of potentially being sent to LA sink.

Should the Bulls eventually end up trading LaVine to the Lakers, the deal has to include Austin Reaves. He fared significantly better than his fellow teammates. dropping 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting off the bench and doing his best to keep the Lakers in the game down the stretch.

So far, the Lakers have been unwilling to include him in trade discussions. But truth be told, they simply don't have anything else of value to offer Chicago. Reaves, on the other hand, would be a welcome addition to the Bulls rotation and would help clear LaVine's gargantuan contract off the payroll.

If these negotiations with Los Angeles don't work out, it's likely that LaVine may be stuck in Chicago for the time being. With the trade market for Zach all dried up — potentially because contending teams are monitoring Donovan Mitchell's status in Cleveland — and the front office in no rush to pawn off their best asset for pennies on the dollar, LaVine just might be forced to tuck his tail between his legs and come crawling back to a Bulls squad that has improved immensely in his absence.

dark. Next. Next Article. Coby White emerges as a contender for coveted award