Once again a middling team in the Eastern Conference, most fans and media members alike would agree the Chicago Bulls are long overdue sweeping changes. In an ironic twist of fate, however, they may find the answer to their problems with a team in an even more dire situation — the Detroit Pistons.
When the trade market for Zach LaVine among the league's contenders dried up, it seemed as though the Bulls would be forced to keep him on the roster, at least for the remainder of the season. With that in mind, the Pistons surprised everyone earlier this week when they emerged as a last-second dark horse to land the two-time All-Star.
The Athletic's James Edwards III confirmed as much in his recent report, claiming "The Chicago Bulls and Pistons have had conversations involving Zach LaVine."
On paper, this deal would make a fair amount of sense for both teams. Although LaVine may not love the prospect of being sent to Detroit, this would net the NBA's worst team a quality running mate alongside their franchise cornerstone Cade Cunningham. If the Pistons can get Zach to buy in, then adding a true star on the offensive end would significantly help open the floor up and allow Detroit's young talent to reach their full potential.
This deal would be just as beneficial for the Bulls, as they'd be able to clear a massive amount of cap space retool the team around Coby White, and see just how far they can take things. Adding a floor-spacing veteran like Bojan Bogdanovic and a blue-chip prospect — like say, Jaden Ivey — would just be the icing on the cake.
The Pistons must put together a more convincing offer if they want the Bulls to trade away Zach LaVine.
Unfortunately, it appears trade discussions may have hit a bump in the road that could potentially bring things to a grinding halt. Marc Stein shared an update (subscription required) regarding where things stand between the two franchises.
"The question from here, of course, is how far Detroit is willing to go in trade talks with Chicago when it might be the only LaVine bidder in circulation," Stein says, "The Pistons are said to have established four of their young players as off-limits in ongoing trade discussions with various teams: Cade Cunningham, Jalen Duren, Jaden Ivey, and rookie Ausar Thompson.
I believe the Pistons have witnessed a lack of teams lining up for LaVine and are now in the process of trying to drive a hard bargain. If the Bulls are truly desperate to get off of Zach's contract and open up a spot for Coby to take the reigns as the lead guard, then perhaps they'd also be willing to cut their losses and deal the All-Star guard away for pennies on the dollar.
That might be the strategic play on Troy Weaver's part, but it would seem that Arturas Karnisovas has remained steadfast and unlikely to buy into Detroit's bluff.
"Word is that the Bulls, to this point, have not shown an inclination to simply make the best deal they can with Detroit to move LaVine off their books," Stein says, "Yet I've been advised that we need to stay tuned."
While I understand why the Pistons would want to keep the entirety of their young core intact, they must realize that All-Stars simply don't grow on trees. They are the NBA's worst team for a reason and just don't have much else in the way of assets to offer if they're unwilling to deal away one of the four aforementioned players.
Besides, trading for LaVine makes little sense for the Pistons in the first place if they also intend to keep Ivey. Chicago wants to make this trade to make room for their promising young guard, and you want me to believe that Detroit is willingly forcing themselves into the same situation? Unless one of these parties is willing to budge, the Bulls might end up stuck right back where they started for the third trade deadline in a row.