There is currently no market league-wide for Bulls star guard Zach LaVine, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on NBA Today (Twitter link). This reporting comes less than a month after the news that both LaVine and Chicago were increasingly open to exploring a trade.
“There is not a market for Zach LaVine right now in the NBA,” Wojnarowski said. “That’s not because Chicago has not tried to find it and [they’re] currently trying to find it.”
Wojnarowski goes on to explain opposing teams’ trepidation with potentially acquiring the two-time All-Star, stating that his contract and production are giving teams pause.
“I think the question for teams is, how much does Zach LaVine impact winning?” Wojnarowski said. “Especially with his salary and a new salary cap where you’re asking yourself, ‘Are we trading for our best player? No. Our second-best player? No. So he’s our third-best player, do we want to pay that kind of money?’”
LaVine has $178.1MM and four years remaining on the five-year contract he signed in 2022. At a remaining average annual salary of $44.5MM, LaVine is under contract through at least 2026, with a player option worth roughly $49MM for the 2026/27 season.
Wojnarowski says the Bulls want to get a decent return for one of their top scorers, but explains that in order for Chicago to get what it wants, teams are going to want to see an uptick in LaVine’s production and impact on winning. Through 20 games, the Bulls are 6-14 and LaVine is averaging 21.0 points per game on 44.3% shooting, both of which are his lowest averages since his first year in Chicago in ’17/18. LaVine has 18 appearances this year but is out for at least one week with a foot issue.
Though LaVine has experienced individual success in Chicago, averaging 25.1 PPG and shooting 38.8% from three (7.1 attempts) over the past five seasons, his team has finished with a winning record just once in his 10 seasons in the league. The Bulls were among the top tier of the Eastern Conference for the first half of the ’21/22 season, but after Lonzo Ball and others suffered injuries, LaVine and the Bulls finished at 46-36 and fell in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bulls acquired LaVine alongside Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen in 2017 in exchange for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton. The Bulls are 194-291 since trading for LaVine. He holds career averages of 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per night.
Of course, as Wojnarowski says, teams are still trying to figure out their identities at this point in the season, and talks will become more substantial across the league when free agents signed in 2023 become trade eligible on Dec. 15 and Jan. 15.