Central Notes: LaVine, Caruso, DeRozan, Theis, Lillard

A potential Zach LaVine trade for the Bulls may not look the way some might expect, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. According to Cowley, if LaVine is traded, it might not be as part of a larger package involving other Chicago players. Executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has insisted numerous times that a rebuild is not on the table and, according to Cowley, the Bulls would instead be looking to retool rather than embark on a second rebuild since Karnisovas took over in 2020.

That means Alex Caruso‘s place in Chicago appears secure for now. Cowley reports that a trade involving Caruso appears unlikely due to the fact that he’s on the books for just $19.35MM across the next two seasons and Chicago views him as “the culture.”

Reports over the summer indicated the Bulls’ asking price for LaVine was called “unreasonable” by other teams, so the return the team would demand for a package of LaVine and Caruso would almost assuredly be enormous, further reducing the likelihood of them being traded together, according to Cowley. It’s always possible the Bulls could change their tune regarding the asking price for either player as the season progresses.

In any case, the trade rumors revolving LaVine are likely just beginning. As we’ve noted and as Cowley points out, we’re less than a month into the season and teams don’t usually pursue blockbuster trades this early in the year. The trade season really begins to pick up in December and January, when recently signed free agents are eligible to be moved. This season’s James Harden trade was an exception, but that deal was only made after Harden had been on the block for months.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan missed the Bulls‘ Wednesday matchup against Orlando and is still away from the team as he deals with a personal matter, tweets NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Head coach Billy Donovan said DeRozan’s status for Chicago’s next game is to be determined.
  • Former Pacers center Daniel Theis gave up about $2.2MM in his contract buyout with Indiana, tweets Spotrac’s Keith Smith. As Smith observes, that’s the same amount as the prorated minimum contract Theis will sign with the Clippers. The Pacers can now create up to $9.7MM in cap space this season.
  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard offered a unique explanation for why he wants to win the NBA’s in-season tournament. “As a leader and somebody who cares about your teammates, especially your younger teammates, you got guys on two-way contracts [and] who are trying to earn a stay and that prize in the end could change their family’s lives,” Lillard said (Twitter link via HoopsHype). The players on the winning team will receive $500K apiece.
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