The New York Knicks are reportedly monitoring Zach LaVine’s situation with the Chicago Bulls
SNY’s Ian Begley reported today that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are two teams that are closely monitoring Zach LaVine’s current situation with the Chicago Bulls. LaVine has two more years and $39 million left on his contract that is set to expire by the summer of 2022. Both teams are monitoring trade winds in the instance where LaVine requests a trade.
The Minnesota Timberwolves originally drafted LaVine with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. LaVine spent three seasons with the Timberwolves, even playing alongside Knicks head coach candidate Tom Thibodeau during the 2016-17 season. His 2016-17 campaign was cut short after 47 games due to a torn ACL in his left knee. He was subsequently traded to the Chicago Bulls, along with Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, for Jimmy Butler.
LaVine spent most of the 2017-18 season recovering from the ACL injury. He bounced back well, showing off some of his well-patented athletic ability. He was a shining star on a team full of turmoil, especially after firing Fred Hoiberg for Jim Boylen. A patellar tendon strain, with the combination of an already lost year, shut LaVine’s season after 63 games.
LaVine continued to improve during the 2019-20 campaign, playing in 60 of the team’s 65 games and staying relatively healthy. He averaged a career high 25.5 points/game and 3.1 threes/game. However, the Bulls continued to remain in turmoil. The Bulls recently hired Arturas Karnisovas as their new President of Basketball Operations, but he has yet to make a decision on Jim Boylen’s future with the team.
Zach LaVine’s future in Chicago appears uncertain
If the Bulls persist with a long-term rebuild, LaVine’s future with the team will be bleak. At 25 years old, he is entering his prime and probably craving playoff basketball. Playing on a rebuilding squad like the Bulls only creates more dissatisfaction while also hurting the team’s chances for a high draft pick. A team, such as the Nets, are more keen on finding a third star and may find that LaVine’s a cheaper option than someone like Bradley Beal.
Regardless of the coaching hire, the Knicks are set on trying to contend sooner than later. LaVine can definitely help the team reach that goal, but he will come at the cost of young players and/or draft capital.
Unlike many of the purported trade and free agent targets, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports Management represents LaVine. If the Knicks hire Thibs, LaVine will only have nothing but positive sentiments. At the 2020 All-Star Weekend, LaVine had the following to say about Thibs:
"“Yeah, he traded me, but for that one season he did coach me, he gave me an opportunity. He put the ball in the hands of 20, 21-year-old kid and said, ‘Go hoop.’ That’s bigger than the business of basketball.’’"
He’d clearly be an upgrade, in his mind, over Jim Boylen.