After missing the playoffs for the past several seasons, the Chicago Bulls returned to relevance this season.
They got off to a hot start, as they held a 38-21 record during the All-Star break, which was good for first place in the Eastern Conference.
It had plenty of people talking about the Bulls being championship contenders, but they faltered down the stretch, finishing with just 46 wins and losing badly in the first round of the NBA playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Although Chicago had an uncanny inability to beat any of the league’s elite teams, it is clearly heading in the right direction.
Zach LaVine, one of its best players, will be a free agent next month, and there has been a lot of talk that he could be headed elsewhere.
If LaVine leaves, it would definitely be a step backward for the Bulls.
LaVine Is An Integral Part Of The Bulls’ Hopes For The Immediate Future
LaVine may not be the Bulls’ best player anymore (that honor probably goes to DeMar DeRozan, who had an amazing season), but he is pretty much irreplaceable.
He averaged 24.4 points a game while shooting 47.6 percent overall from the field and 38.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as 4.5 assists per game.
LaVine, who is nicknamed “Young Hollywood,” is an exciting player, especially in transition, and he led Chicago with 62 dunks this season.
If he leaves Chicago, the team will have a lack of players other than DeRozan who can create their own shot and help carry the offense.
Lonzo Ball is a terrific piece who can up-tempo the game and make a noticeable impact defensively, but he doesn’t have any real one-on-one skills of offense.
Center Nikola Vucevic can score, but he can’t score or get his own shot as well as LaVine can.
As it is, the Bulls do need to improve their offense, as they ranked 13th in offensive rating and points per game this season.
That’s not good enough for a team that expects to contend for the world title.
He Has Been The Subject Of Many Trade Rumors
This is the point of the NBA offseason when trade rumors and speculation are rampant, and LaVine has been one of the most-talked about players in that regard.
This week, there has been a report that the Portland Trail Blazers will be targeting him this summer.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 6, 2022
There have also been rumors that LaVine will somehow end up on the Los Angeles Lakers.
LaVine played his college ball at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his style of play would fit in well with the Lakers’ fast-breaking “Showtime” image.
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) May 30, 2022
But in the end, if the Bulls’ front office is serious about winning its first world championship since 1998, it should pull out all the stops to keep LaVine in the fold.
It may take a max contract to keep him in Chicago, but given his level of play year after year, it would be worth it.
In the modern NBA, it costs a lot of money to field a championship-caliber roster, and teams usually, if not always need to go into luxury tax territory to possess such a roster.