After the Dame and Harden trades were finalized, the wait began to see which NBA star would be next to demand a trade. Given how the start of the year has gone, I think it's fair to suggest that a few popular names got crossed off the list. Joel Embiid is certainly not about to demand a trade out of Philly, and after an 8-3 start in MIN, it feels like KAT isn't about to do it either. We all knew it was coming eventually, and once Shams dropped this little nugget on us a few days ago we had our answer
Zach LaVine, come on down!
Alright, so now that we had our star who clearly wants out of his current situation, the next shoe we had to wait to drop was the trade list. By now you know how these things work. It gets leaked that a player wants out, and then not too long after we hear about the teams he wants. Don't let a small thing like Zach LaVine only being in Year 2 of his 5/215M extension confuse you. Stars not named Damian Lillard usually get to go where they want, regardless of the fact that they traded up their ability to join whoever they wanted by signing for 5 guaranteed years and $215M dollars.
So if you just ignore that part, let's instead focus on the newly reported trade destination list
Full list: Lakers, Heat, Sixers, Spurs, Kings
On the surface, not all that surprising. Four of those teams are good/in contention in theory + the Wemby factor. I wouldn't say this list is shocking at all given LaVine's skillset, the question is more are any of these teams going to be willing to pay the price to pull off a deal?
To begin, let's get up to speed with what LaVine's contract looks likeAs you can see, he's a fairly high salary player. This matters of course because if you're interested in trading for LaVine, you have to make the money work. Even separate from the draft capital it might take, if you don't have the contracts then there's simply nothing to do. If the Bulls are trading LaVine, that probably tells you they are about to smash the rebuild button, so I would think they'd be OK with expiring deals/picks etc. That doesn't mean you should expect the Bulls to give him away for free, because again he's locked in for a 2+1 after this season. There's certainly no rush.
With that in mind, let's see how each team stacks up in terms of what they can even offer
Los Angeles Lakers
It's important to remember that Zach LaVine's agent is Rich Paul. As a Klutch client, I think it's fair to think that maybe the Lakers have the early upper hand here if they're interested. If there's one thing we know, it's that Rich Paul brings his Klutch guys to LA. LeBron/AD/and Vanderbilt are all current Klutch guys on the roster.
Seeing as how LaVine has LA ties, this isn't that surprising. But what do the Lakers even have to offer?
Now, we're already hearing reports that Austin Reaves is off the table in any LaVine deal, so cross off his $12M. I think any LaVine trade starts with DLo's $17M, and remember he has a player option for next season at $18M. I can't imagine the Bulls give a shit about that unless they somehow think he can be their PG of the future, but at 28 if you're going to rebuild you really don't have a need for him. My guess is they could just flip him down the road in February for additional assets.
But $17M isn't $40M so you obviously need to add something to the pot. Things get much easier if you also add Rui's $15M. There are trade date restrictions for both guys (DLo can't be traded until December, Rui in January), BUT in theory a package of DLo/Rui/Cam Reddish does work strictly from a contract standpoint. Add in I'm sure at least 1 (maybe even 2) 1st RD picks and you have a framework for a deal.
Now, is that worth it for the Lakers? I think so. Losing DLo and Reddish are whatever in a trade like this. They basically gave DLo that new deal as a way to trade him, and you still have Vincent/Vanderbilt on the roster. You can just play Wood more at the PF spot or something. I could see the Lakers being interested in flipping that stuff to form a LeBron/LaVine/AD trio, and for the Bulls side they get expiring/moveable contracts along with draft assets to start their rebuild.
We sort of have a similar problem with LaVine like we did with Dame. Sure LaVine could want to go there, but the Heat's assets haven't changed and LaVine's salary is high just like Dame's. After being reluctant to go all in on previous stars, it does seem a little far fetched that Zach LaVine of all people would be the ones the Heat would go all in for, considering he doesn't exactly come off as a huge "Heat Culture" player.
Having said that, LaVine does provide the same shot creation possibility that made Dame so attractive for that team. At the same time, the Heat are off to a great start so maybe they don't even think they need it? But for the sake of the blog, let's say they do. Here's what they have to offer
We're back to the same conversation we had all summer. Do we think the Blazers want any of the Heats scraps? It feels like JJJ is already nearly untouchable given his start, so we're talking about the same Herro/Lowry/Robinson type players. If the Heat are trading for LaVine, having Herro on the roster may feel a little redundant, so could a package deal around Herro/Robinson work?
From a money standpoint, the contracts work. If it were me I would try and sell off Lowry instead of Herro, but I have no clue why the Bulls would want to do that, even if they are tanking. At the very worst, you can always flip Herro later. Granted this is the same line of thinking that the Blazers had no interest in, but that whole situation was fucked. The problem the Heat might run into is their draft capital available is certainly not better than the majority of the teams on LaVine's list, which is what is always going to make these types of trades tough for MIA.
But if they put Herro on the table, maybe the Bulls value him more than POR does and that's the path to overcoming not as great draft assets.
Now that James Harden is out of their life, Daryl Morey is on the hunt. There are two ways of thinking when it comes to what Morey could do. One side says find that 3rd star to pair next to Maxey and Embiid. The other side says fuck that, empower Maxey to continue his crazy rise and find quality role players to fill out the roster. I think it's much more likely that PHI woudl be in on someone like Caruso (but not for that price) than LaVine, but let's just see what they have to offer
As you can see, there are a few mid sized salaries to play with here. Now, Morey could make this easy and see if the Bulls would be interested in taking on Tobias Harris' $39M deal, which might have some appeal to them seeing as how it's an expiring contract. To me, given how well Harris is playing in Nick Nurse's system, I would consider that unlikely. You made it this far with Harris, you may as well just ride it out.
So how else could they get there? Easy. Just give the Bulls all the money you got back from the Clippers. A package using Morris/Batum/Covington's money works, and maybe you had to add in a Jaden Springer or something as a young asset or maybe Korkmaz or something. The point is, should Morey choose, there are ways to get the money to work without touching their core players.
Let's also remember that Morey has probably the best trade asset in terms of draft capital, which is that future Clippers pick. That shit is gold given what's happening in LAC right now. Maybe you can keep Springer who the Sixers may want to hold onto and swap him for a lesser player by including that pick. Even if the NBA talent you're getting back for LaVine may not match up compared to other offers, it all depends on what the Bulls want. If they want expirings and good draft assets, that makes the Sixers appealing should they choose to get involved.
After all this work the Kings have done to create this "winning culture" does trading for Zach LaVine even fit for what they are building? Do they even need Zach LaVine? Do they even have the money?
Well, let's see
I would think things start with Harrison Barnes and his $17M, but you still have a ways to go. When you look at the salaries, this doesn't look possible without maybe a 3rd team getting involved. It's unrealstic to think the Bulls do a 4 for 1 type trade, but with only one midsized salary to work with, I'm not sure I see the path.
San Antonio Spurs
Why the Spurs would make a trade like this, I have no idea. The whole point should be finding ways to get Wemby every shot possible, not bring in guys to take shots away. Plus, if the Spurs are going to trade for anything, I am begging they trade for an actual point guard. Regardless, LaVine put them on his list so let's see what they have to work with
You'd think Keldon Johnson's $20M would need to be involved, and you could maybe do something like Johnson/Graham/Osman plus picks as the framework. Money-wise, that works. The Bulls get a good piece in Johnson back, some expirings in Osman/Graham and then whatever draft capital is mixed in.
It sounds crazy, but at least there's a path. I just don't see what the point of doing a trade like that would be for SA. They aren't trying to win right now, they're in the developmental stage of their rebuild. It's not like a trade like this vaults them into the Play In or contention or anything like that, so what's the point? To maybe flip LaVine down the road some more pieces once he inevitable demands another trade?
Obviously this isn't factoring in 3 team trades or anything like that because those are impossible to predict. But given the teams on LaVine's list and looking at what everyone has to trade, my gut tells me if all the teams are interested, it comes down to the Lakers or the Sixers. The Lakers can probably provide the best NBA player talent mixed with picks, and the Sixers can offer rotation players who don't have long term money plus an extremely valuable draft asset. I'd probably power rank them
The tough part is with all the trade restrictions around when something like this could happen, I guess it depends on the urgency of CHI. If they can't wait another month, that basically eliminates the Lakers. Now of course just because a star gives a list doesn't mean there can't be a mystery team out there, I mean none of us had Dame ending up in MIL. That's the beauty of the NBA. Sometimes it's teams we aren't even thinking about right now that end up with the player.
So now that you see what everyone has to offer, who ya got? Come February and the trade deadline, where do you think LaVine ends up?