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Zach LaVine for Trae Young? Here are 14 fake Chicago Bulls trades and what I think of them

Will Gottlieb Avatar
June 19, 2023

So I asked for some fake trades to review and got more responses than I was prepared for. I’m doing the best I can get to get to as many of these as possible, but cherry picking some of the more interesting ones. Here are my grades for 14 fake Chicago Bulls trades I received on Twitter.

For the purposes of simplicity and sanity, I’m omitting all trades of more than two teams and all trades that include a sign-and-trade. There were also a ton of variations with the same team (primarily the Trail Blazers), so I’m picking just one iteration of the same deal.

Apologies to everyone who sent in ideas I couldn’t get to, maybe we can try this again soon.

Bulls get: 3rd pick, Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe

Blazers get: Zach LaVine, Alex Caruso, 2024 lottery protected first (via Blazers)

Let’s get this one out of the way since I received many iterations of the deal.

Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer speculated this is the kind of deal the Bulls would want in a trade for LaVine — clearly a mega-haul — noting his flirtations with Portland prior to signing his max deal with the Bulls last summer.

I would do this in a second if I’m the Bulls.

But unfortunately I doubt the Blazers would.

Frankly, I don’t think they would even do the deal without having to include Sharpe, their prized prospect who has been reportedly off the table in negotiations. They have their eyes on a big wing who can shoot and defend at a high level.

On the other hand, Caruso gives you defense and LaVine gives you high-level shooting. They even open up the ability to trade all their future draft picks to add another talent in this scenario. Improving and creating flexibility along the way is definitely tantalizing.

Damian Lillard could also tip the scales. He played alongside LaVine during the 2022 Olympics, so maybe the two have a connection.

Maybe a deal like this becomes more feasible if Scoot Henderson is already off the board at three. Maybe that helps the Bulls chances since other teams won’t be as interested in moving up for a Brandon Miller. Even so, I’d prefer Amen Thompson over Miller.

Though I do think this helps the Blazers and the Bulls, I just don’t see this as what the Blazers are looking for.

Verdict: Blazers say no

Bulls get: 2nd Overall, Terry Rozier, Cody Martin, James Bouknight, 2026 1st via Charlotte

Hornets get: Zach LaVine

I don’t hate it and I’ve designed a few similar iterations myself. If the Bulls could get Scoot Henderson out of a Zach LaVine trade, they probably should do it. Cash in a future first, some additional depth and we’re cooking with gas.

Problem is, I don’t view this as the best outcome for Charlotte. Though they seem to be taking offers on 2, I don’t think this one wins out against the field. And they don’t seem desperate enough to move it that they would end up taking their third or fourth best offer just to move off of their pick.

Verdict: Hornets say no

Bulls get: Trae Young

Hawks get: Zach LaVine

Ok, I can see this one being super divisive. Personally I don’t love it for either team. Young is a supremely talented player, but he’s also supremely limited. The Hawks may want to move on from Young, but how much does swapping him for LaVine help? I like the idea of a Dejounte Murray backcourt partner for LaVine but the ceiling of that team just doesn’t feel high enough for what the Hawks could get.

For the Bulls, I think Young gives your team a higher ceiling than LaVine does and he’s also much younger. Just not really a fan of his and don’t think it moves the needle in a meaningful enough way to not explore whatever is behind door number two.

Verdict: Both say no

Bulls get: Jonathan Kuminga, Patrick Baldwin

Warriors get: Alex Caruso

Many have soured on Kuminga and while I’m still a fan I am more skeptical of his upside than I was a year ago. I’d definitely consider this if I was the Bulls, but from the Warriors perspective, after giving up James Wiseman and multiple second-round picks to acquire Gary Payton II, a similar player to Caruso, I’m not sure that’s the guy they would target with one of their few remaining assets.

Verdict: Both say no

Bulls get: Josh Giddey, Dario Saric, 2027 top 3 protected 1st via Thunder, 2029 unprotected 1st

Thunder get: Zach LaVine

I like the idea of the Thunder as a trade partner for the Bulls, and I definitely don’t hate this return.

Ultimately, I think you have to consider this as the Bulls, but picks in the more immediate future would be ideal. I also love Jalen Williams and wouldn’t mind building a package around him.

I think the Thunder are more inclined to become more competitive this year, I just wonder if LaVine is the guy that gets them there, or is he too far off their timeline to make this kind of deal work.

Verdict: Both say no

Bulls get: Luke Kennard, Brandon Clarke, Kenneth Lofton (aka Gen Z-Bo), 25th overall, 45th overall

Grizzlies get: DeMar DeRozan

Like this. A lot. Would love to get Tyus Jones in there, but with Ja Morant receiving a 25 game suspension from the league, I imagine the Grizzlies would want to hang onto the best backup point guard in the league.

For that reason, they may be even more in on DeRozan, someone who they have been connected to if they swing and miss on a Khris Middleton, for example.

The Grizzlies have a ton of young talent that could be included. I’m hanging onto hope for Ziaire Williams. Jake LaRavia and David Roddy were draftnik favorites last year. Santi Aldama the year before. Any combination of those guys makes it interesting and though there’s not a ton of upside with 25, it might be the best the Bulls could do for DeRozan.

I think the Bulls fall off a cliff without DeRozan, but that’s probably OK considering they need to be careful about getting into bed with him for a few more years in his next contract.

Verdict: Both say yes

This is a new one and I’m glad we got this kind of deal. I actually love this for the Bulls, who would secure multiple firsts for a pick that may only ever turn into a second.

For that reason, the Pacers probably say no. Despite the desire to consolidate picks, they probably use this opportunity to move up in this year’s draft rather than kick the can down the road.

But if this is on the table for the Bulls, sign me up.

Verdict: Pacers say no

Bulls get: Zion Williamson

Pelicans get: Zach LaVine

More injuries. Less shooting. I don’t know…

On the other hand, Williamson has proven to be a game-breaking talent in the few games he has played. LaVine fits nicely with Brandon Ingram, though the team’s upside is limited.

Verdict: Both say no

Bulls get: Victor Oladipo, Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic, 18th overall, 2027 top five protected first, 2029 top 10 protected first

Heat get: Zach LaVine

I think the Heat are winning this one but not as much as it might seem. Three future picks is a strong haul for the Bulls, who also add young talent in Herro and Jovic, while cleaning up their books. I’d probably want to lower protections on the picks or remove them entirely to secure more upside since the players aren’t getting you there, but this is solid.

For the Heat, who are always star shopping, I don’t mind this either. I staunchly believe LaVine is better than Beal at this point, and is certainly cheaper, younger, healthier and does not have veto rights. I’d rather spend this capital on LaVine than Beal.

I also think LaVine would thrive in Heat Culture. I know he has a reputation for not being a winning player (which, ugh) but he’s an extremely hard worker and fits their style of play. He would have more freedom to operate as a scorer while being insulated defensively and still have the ability to play off of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

Verdict: Heat say yes. I think the Bulls may hold out for something better, but this is pretty good.

Bulls get: Jalen Smith, Bennedict Mathurin, 7th overall, 26th overall

Pacers get: Zach LaVine

Money seems a bit off here — $40 million going to Pacers, $12M to the Bulls. But assuming the salaries get fleshed out, this would be a haul for Chicago. Two blue chip prospects would be hard to turn down.

I don’t see it for the Pacers though. Though Tyrese Haliburton, LaVine and Myles Turner would be an electric trio, the Pacers seem content to build slowly, for now. If they do make this kind of package available, reports indicate they’re interested more in an OG Anunoby or Jaylen Brown type rather than the smaller LaVine.

Verdict: Pacers say no

Bulls get: Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, 17th overall, 47th overall, 2025 1st (via Lakers)

Lakers get: DeMar DeRozan

I actually like this for both teams and think it could be a winner. Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have their 2025 pick to trade and can only move 2029. They seemed reluctant to ship 2027, which they ultimately did, at the trade deadline in 2023, but hometown DeRozan, on this contract, afford them the ability to retain their guys and still have flexibility to make a move via sign-and-trade with D’Angelo Russell.

I’d strongly consider this for the Bulls, it’s probably better than the similar offer from the Grizzlies. Doesn’t have a lot of sexy, long term upside without the future pick, but that may be a sticking point for LA.

Verdict: Both say yes

Bulls get: Nuggets entire roster

Nuggets get: Bulls entire roster

Does it come with the championship? Either way, sign me up!

Bulls get: RJ Barrett, Josh Hart, Immanuel Quickley, 2024 first (via Knicks), 2025 2nd (via Pistons), 2026 1st (via Knicks)

Knicks get: Zach LaVine

There are a few different machinations between the Bulls and the Knicks, who reportedly checked in on LaVine prior to the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline. This one is not my favorite.

First, I don’t think Hart is going anywhere.

I’m not a Barrett fan, though his salary needs to be included to get something done here. I prefer Quentin Grimes to Quickley, and while both would be ideal, you’re probably getting only one of the two.

I don’t see quite enough upside here for the Bulls, and I don’t know if the Knicks want to hold out for someone better than LaVine with all the picks they have stockpiled.

It also hurts that the Bulls can’t get a pick this year out of the Knicks, who sent theirs to Portland for Hart.

For now, both teams say no, but there’s definitely something there. Maybe after this season it becomes more realistic.

Verdict: Both say no

Bulls get: Keegan Murray, Kevin Huerter, Malik Monk, 24th overall, 2025 unprotected first round pick (via Sacramento)

Kings get: Zach LaVine, 2024 lottery protected first (via Portland)

This is slightly off because Sacramento has already sent their 2024 pick to Atlanta in the original Kevin Huerter trade. This trade wouldn’t be able to happen until the Kings were on the clock, and even then, it would need to be a 2026 pick to avoid the Stepien Rule.

After sorting that out, I don’t hate this deal but I’m not sure how much upside it provides the Bulls. Murray is a nice young player but already entering his age 23 season, doesn’t necessarily get you to the point where he could ever reach LaVine levels.

To me, I’d need to keep the Portland pick and add another future first from Sacramento to grease the wheels. The Kings may want to swap Monk out for Richaun Holmes, which I would be fine with, but I’m just not sure this feels like a win for either side. A move to make a move.

Verdict: Bulls say no

As I went through these trades, it quickly became apparent that finding a trade partner for either DeRozan or LaVine is pretty difficult. Teams are more locked in on size, shooting and defense rather than ball-dominant scorers.

Fair or not, I also think reputation plays a role here. LaVine, to me, is a better player than Bradley Beal at this point. Contract aside. Even DeRozan, despite being older an on an expiring contract, is more enticing to me than Beal. He’s much more durable and could be had much more cheaply.

These trades also made clear to me how little I understand LaVine’s trade market around the league. For the Bulls to pull something off, they probably need one premium asset (a legit young talent or top draft pick), plus a couple lower level assets (decent role players and/or future draft capital) along with filler salary (likely in the form of negative value contracts) to convince themselves this is the way forward.

I don’t know if they’re going to get that much. So do they force something through just to do it? What happens to his value if they wait? What happens to the Bulls if they don’t redirect this season?

Though I am strongly in favor of a teardown, the Bulls can’t just move these guys to move them. They need to get value back in return. There is some urgency to move DeRozan especially, so they may not get as much as they would hope. But a trade that nets limited upside isn’t one worth making.

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