Sunday, June 26, 2022

Playoff team envisioned as a surprise potential contender for Bulls Star

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Should the Chicago Bulls worry about the Philadelphia 76ers as potential candidates for Zach LaVine? The two-time All-Star is set to be the top free agent when the market officially opens on July 1 and has vowed to keep his “eyes wide open”.

That’s despite the fact that the Olympic gold medalist will need arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

There’s been no shortage of teams linked to his potential Chicago exit, from San Antonio to Los Angeles to Portland. Each of them has ties to LaVine but struggles financially to close a deal.

That makes ESPN’s Bobby Marks The mention of LaVine in connection with the Philadelphia 76ers stands out.

Marks was a guest on the Lowe Post Podcast Zach Lowe Next Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck when LaVine’s name came up. The Bulls’ guard wasn’t the topic of conversation, however.

Marks mentioned LaVine while discussing the impact James Harden’s decision for the final year of his contract will have on the 76ers this offseason.

Harden’s option is worth over $47 million, according to Sportrac.

“It’s a defeat for Philadelphia … if they think there’s another big whale out there, they can try to get it … Whether it’s a Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine. But you need Harden to take a significant pay cut…if you think there’s a taker of Tobias Harris out there.

We’ve seen rumors before that Beal has been linked with Philadelphia. But LaVine’s name is new in this context, and there don’t appear to be many connections between him and the city or organization.

The Bulls hired general manager Marc Eversley from Philly two off-seasons ago, and Billy Donovan was a finalist for 76ers head coach before Doc Rivers accepted the position ahead of the 2021 season.

Harris has two years and over $76 million left on the contract. He averaged 17.6 points with 56.6% true shooting in the regular season. Those are negative numbers for Harris, but he earned credit for his improved defense in the first round against the Toronto Raptors.

He was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019 – the fifth trade of his career. Harris was once again a topic with an upcoming video Jimmy Butler rhetorically asking “Tobias Harris about me?” on the way to the dressing room after eliminating his former team.

A sign-and-trade with the Bulls is the only way LaVine can move to Philadelphia, and Harris would be a logical candidate unless a third team is brought in to facilitate the move.

NBC Sports Chicago listed Harris as a potential target for the Bulls in free agency in 2018 before being sent to Philadelphia. The bulls switched to trading for Otto Porter instead.

If that deal went through, the Bulls would likely list Harris, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic among the starting numbers. Vucevic is a former 76ers draft pick and is entering the final year of his contract.

It seems that virtually every team has some interest in LaVine. But few have connections strong enough to possibly lure him away from Chicago. Even fewer have the available resources or a way to get there.

None of them can beat the bulls, who can bid $56 million more than everyone else.

A sign-and-trade that sees Coby White going to Philly in exchange for Harris will work even if Harden chooses to, according to Spotrac’s roster manager. But the Bulls would almost certainly ask for more (including draft compensation) and adding Tyrese Maxey works too.

Still, this is mostly just another reminder of how close any of the other 29 teams can come to putting together an enticing offer for LaVine between finance, competitiveness and sentimentality.

It’s also a reminder of how valued a player of LaVine’s stature is in the league. Mark’s comments on LaVine come in around the 7:55 mark.

It seems that virtually every team has some interest in LaVine. But few have connections strong enough to possibly lure him away from Chicago. Even fewer have the available resources or a way to get there.

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