Friday, January 20, 2023

Proposed Bulls blockbuster delivers Zach LaVine for the team’s new future

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The Chicago Bulls are once again fighting their way back to that elusive .500 mark, dropping the Detroit Pistons by a 126-108 mark Thursday in Paris, France. However, that and Sunday’s overwhelming win over the Golden State Warriors did little to answer lingering questions about the team’s direction.

Progress or not, 21-24 is still 21-24, Lonzo Ball’s return from injury this season remains in doubt, and even with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine at the helm, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls getting back to where they were before ball went down last season.

As such, the time may have come for Chicago to pull the plug and move toward fielding a roster with higher upside potential. For his part, ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks just laid out a real blockbuster in case the cops decide to go down that route.

“If the Bulls really want to make a move, how about Zach LaVine moving to New York for a package of draft picks, young players and contracts? Unlikely, but … the bulls have a choice to either stay the course or look for deals involving their core players.”

As unlikely as it may be, here’s our best guess at the framework for such a deal.

To piece together a deal that sends LaVine to the Big Apple, it’s worth looking at the packages the Knicks have reportedly offered the Utah Jazz to acquire another top-two guard in Donovan Mitchell.

LaVine is a year and a half older and his knee problems are a big concern, so we’re going to scale things back a bit and propose the following trade:

The Bulls’ big prize here – outside of selection – is Grimes, who upped his game as a 22-year-old after raising eyebrows last season and during Summer League. In 35 appearances, he averaged 10.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists with 45-37-80 shooting splits.

He’s a big part of NYC’s turnaround, and all signs are that he can do even more with some added spice.

Knicks fans have been clamoring for Toppin to get more minutes since his arrival, and there’s reason to believe he could make a positive contribution in a regular role. He struggled with reduced minutes in 2022-23, but last season New York was 10.2 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the floor.

If he’s not your jam, the Bulls might also be looking at Cam Reddish at this point.

And while Fournier might not be high on anyone’s wish list, he’s a useful player with a decade-long track record as a top-flight floorspacer. He will also be a nice expiring contract next season as there is a team option on the last $19 million of his deal in 2024-25

Then there’s Rose, the wily vet whose mere presence would bring more people to the seats at the United Center. With everything he’s seen and been through at this point, he could help fuel the growth of players like Grimes, Toppin, Patrick Williams and any other prospect the Bulls bring in.

Finally, there is the compensation draft that is important and also something that the bulls will need in their rebuild/retrofit process.

New York, meanwhile, is getting another star player who could take the team back to the Eastern Conference upper tier along with Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle (assuming LaVine stays healthy and plays at his current level).

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