Bulls Rumors: Zach LaVine Trade, Free-Agent Targets and More

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

Chicago Bulls' Zach LaVine carries the ball past Orlando Magic's Aaron Gordon in their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls have an encouraging collection of young talent, a clear position of need to address in free agency and one intriguing trade chip in Zach LaVine.

Or, maybe not the last part.

As the franchise continues its rebuild toward relevance, the front office is exploring ways to upgrade the roster. LaVine has been mentioned in trade rumors since the beginning of the year, but the Bulls are promoting him as a critical player.

No matter his future, though, Chicago's offseason plans in free agency and Summer League are starting to become clearer.


Bulls Say They Didn't Shop LaVine

Shortly before February's trade deadline, ESPN's Zach Lowe reported the Bulls are listening to offers for anyone other than rookie Wendell Carter Jr. and second-year star Lauri Markkanen.

Leading up to the NBA draft, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic noted a "growing belief" around the NBA that Chicago is willing to trade "anyone or anything" outside of those two players.

Marc Stein of The New York Times, however, said the franchise insists it didn't use LaVine in trade discussions.

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

The Bulls, up next here at No. 7, are adamant that they did NOT shop Zach LaVine in an attempt to move up in this draft and see LaVine as a foundational piece

Specific to the draft, that could be true.

LaVine averaged a career-high 23.7 points in 2018-19, so touting him as a foundational piece is understandable. Plus, 2019 was widely considered a "three-player draft." Why would the Bulls include him if they weren't pursuing a top pick?

That's only part of the story, though. LaVine is a subpar defender and committed 3.4 turnovers per game along with his 4.5 assists. The 24-year-old is one of Chicago's best players, but that doesn't mean the Bulls shouldn't pursue a better player.

But at least before the draft, that upgrade wasn't available.


Latest News on Point Guards

After drafting a potential starter in Coby White at No. 7 overall, the Bulls have started the process of much-needed upgrades at point guard. Kris Dunn is a quality defender, but he's a mediocre shooter and is prone to ball-handling lapses.

More competition for Dunn should be coming, too.

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times noted free agents Cory Joseph and Ish Smith "keep coming up on the Bulls' radar."

Over the last two seasons, Joseph provided 7.2 points and 3.5 assists with only one turnover per game as a key backup and occasional starter for the Indiana Pacers. Smith notched 9.8, 4.5 and 1.3, respectively, in a similar role on the Detroit Pistons.

While a previous report connected Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Bulls, pursuing a backup such as Joseph or Smith is a cost-effective alternative.


Odds and Ends

According to Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score, the Bulls will extend a qualifying offer to Ryan Arcidiacono to make him a restricted free agent. Last year, he appeared in 81 games with 32 starts, averaging 6.7 points and shooting 37.3 from three-point range.

However, Wayne Selden will not receive a similar offer. The shooting guard will be unrestricted on the market.

Chicago recently added Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ and St. John's guard Justin Simon to their Summer League roster, too.

Happ earned first-team All-Big Ten honors three times with the Badgers and was a second-team All-American last season. Although his shooting range is basically limited to six feet, Happ can contribute in every other way. He averaged 17.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals in 2018-19.

After transferring from Arizona, Simon notched 11.3 points, 4.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game in two seasons at St. John's. Since he's not much of a perimeter threat, Simon must be efficient when attacking the rim and thrive defensively to make an impact.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.