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What would a Detroit Pistons offer for Zach LaVine look like?

Will Gottlieb Avatar
January 25, 2024

There may be a suitor interested in Zach LaVine after all.

According to James Edwards of The Athletic, “the Chicago Bulls and (Detroit) Pistons have had conversations involving LaVine, league sources say.”

This represents one of the few times another team has been linked to the Bulls in a LaVine deal. Most other reporting has indicated LaVine’s destination wishlist or reported that rumored teams were not interested in the Bulls’ former All-Star. .

The report goes on to say:

  • “Chicago appears to be locked in on a package involving Bojan Bogdanovic and one of Detroit’s blue-chippers for LaVine and his hefty contract.”
  • “Once again, the Pistons have shown no interest in parting with any of Cunningham, Ivey, Duren or Thompson. It is possible Detroit considers adding LaVine when/if the Bulls’ asking price goes down. However, those are discussions that have been happening and will continue to happen internally.”

NBC Sports Chicago’s KC Johnson followed up to this reporting with some reporting of his own.

“To this point, a source said, the Bulls haven’t moved off their stance of seeking a strong return for LaVine. In other words, at least as of recently, the Bulls aren’t looking to move LaVine simply as a cost-saving move or in “addition by subtraction” thinking.”

Edwards goes on to report:

  • “While Detroit may be more willing to part with veterans Bogdanovic and Alec Burks than they were a year ago, the Pistons are not actively shopping either player, per league sources.”
  • “Bogdanovic has a team option for next season, and Burks will hit unrestricted free agency. Detroit appears more inclined to wait until the summer to make a decision on Bogdanovic, whom they really value, unless a trade for a good first-round draft pick and a good player comes along.”
  • “As for Burks, the Pistons believe they have a chance to retain the bucket-getting veteran this summer. But I get the sense that two really good second-round picks, at minimum, would cause Detroit to consider a move before the deadline.”

Detroit’s draft capital

Ideally the Bulls would also seek draft compensation in exchange for LaVine. Regarding Detroit’s available picks, the Pistons owe a protected first round pick to the New York Knicks, with protections as follows:

  • Protected for selections 1-18 in 2024
  • Protected for selections 1-13 in 2025
  • Protected for selections 1-11 in 2026
  • Protected for selections and 1-9 in 2027

So, if the Pistons were to trade a first round pick to the Bulls, they would not be able to trade any firsts until two years after the pick to the Knicks conveys.

While it’s possible that pick conveys to the Knicks prior to 2027, which would result in the Bulls potentially getting a pick sooner, the latest that first would convey to the Bulls would be in 2028, since the 2027 pick becomes a second rounder.

Because of the way the Pistons’ outgoing picks are protected, they can only trade one of the 2029 or 2030 pick. They cannot trade multiple first round picks.

If, for example, the Pistons sent a protected pick in 2029 that rolls over to 2030, the pick would not be able to extend beyond 2030, as teams are only able to trade seven years out. So if the pick is protected in 2030, it would either extinguish or turn into a second round pick if it does not convey by then.

What would a trade look like?

According to the Pistons evaluations, the price of Bogdanovic and Burks would equate to a good first, a good player and two good seconds (likely meaning lightly or unprotected). Likely, their market values are below those projections, but that’s not bad value coming back to the Bulls considering the longer term savings. Burks is an expiring contract and Bogdanovic is guaranteed for only $2 million after this season.

If not Jalen Duren, Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey or Ausar Thompson, the Bulls could target young players like Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes, James Wiseman and Marcus Sasser as potential additions.

Ultimately, these kinds of reports generally indicate an initial asking price. The Bulls clearly want to maximize return on LaVine and the Pistons would want to get him dirt cheap considering the amount of money left on his contract ($138 million over three years after this season).

Bogdanovic, Burks, and let’s say Hayes, plus a 2024 2nd this season (via Memphis or Washington) and a protected pick in 2029 or 2030, seems like it would accomplish the Bulls goals of adding win-now talent, a young piece and a future pick.

The Bulls could potentially get off guaranteed money to Jevon Carter, pick up a top-35 pick in this draft and some future assets. I think that might be a best case scenario when it comes to realistic options.

The Bulls could look to flip Burks and/or Bogdanovic to another team for additional assets.

But what if it’s Joe Harris instead of Bogdanovic, and Monte Morris or James Wiseman instead of Burks? Though the deal still gets the Bulls out of a lot of money after this season, there’s less help coming back now and still no premium prospects.

Maybe it’s some mix and match of these players, but this framework, while not the sexiest, does answer a lot of questions for the Bulls.

Ultimately, the Bulls will have to decide how much they value resolving the LaVine situation and cap relief compared to future and current production.

Trade LaVine now and you may be able to save money but not get anything of real value in return.

Wait until the summer or next deadline and you may be able to move LaVine for more. But you also run the risk of needing to attach a pick to dump him by then.

The LaVine market is clearly not going to produce overwhelming value, but if the Bulls are content to move him for the best offer available, the Pistons could be an ideal trade partner, even without one of their blue chip prospects being included.

We’ll see how these conversations inevitably change in the next 14 days as teams become increasingly pressured to make moves ahead of the deadline.

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