Central Notes: LaVine, DeRozan, Smith, Giannis

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Zach LaVine didn’t deny a report that he’s open to being traded. In fact, the Bulls wing only fueled more speculation in his comments to the media, as relayed by NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson.

When asked if he’d rather be elsewhere, LaVine was evasive.

“Right now is not that time to really talk about that. Play the Orlando Magic (Wednesday), try and get a win,” he said. “If something comes obviously out later on that will be the time I talk about it.”

Chicago is off to a slow start, having won just four of its first 11 games, and LaVine acknowledged that the losing has worn on him.

“I mean, I think it’s a combination of things where if you’re in a losing situation or a place you’re not winning games, people are frustrated,” he said. “From players to the front office, the coaches … we’re not happy because we’re not winning. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s just the nature of the business. More things come up when you’re not in a winning environment.”

LaVine, who signed a five-year extension in the summer of 2022, is represented by super-agent Rich Paul. LaVine indicated that Paul is in frequent contact with top Bulls executive Artūras Karnišovas.

“It’s not like we’re not in a good relationship or a good talking space. We understand the business of basketball, I do more than most people,” LaVine said. “People talk. I’ve been in trade talks for a long time, so I understand the situation. But once news is always broken it’s a big thing. It’s not like it will be the first or the last time it’s going to happen with my name. As of right now I’m excited to still put this jersey on and go out here and play, try and get this win.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls’ other starting wing, DeMar DeRozan, won’t play against Orlando. He’s left the team to attend to a personal matter, Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report tweets. DeRozan is expected to return for Chicago’s next game on Friday, also against Orlando.
  • The Pacers are awaiting the results of tests on Jalen Smith. He was taken to a Philadelphia-area hospital after suffering a head injury during their game against the Sixers on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press (link via ESPN). Smith collided with the Sixers’ Paul Reed as Reed elevated for a dunk during the second quarter.
  • The Bucks have listed Giannis Antetokounmpo as out for their game on Wednesday against Toronto, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. Antetokounmpo is dealing with a right calf ailment.
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