January 28, 2021
NBA Rumors: Zach LaVine & Lauri Markkanen Could Be Headed To Pelicans For Package Centered On Lonzo Ball

The New Orleans Pelicans are one of the young teams that are expected to be active on the market before the 2021 trade deadline. With the improvements shown by Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the Pelicans could speed up the rebuilding process and try surrounding their young superstar duo with quality players who could help make huge noise in the loaded Western Conference in the 2020-21 NBA season. In a recent article, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report suggested a hypothetical blockbuster deal that would enable the Pelicans to acquire Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen from the Chicago Bulls.

In the proposed trade scenario, the Pelicans would send a package that includes Lonzo Ball, Eric Bledsoe, Jaxson Hayes, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 first-round pick to the Bulls in exchange for LaVine, Markkanen, and Ryan Arcidiacono. Though it would require them to give up two young and promising talents in Ball and Hayes and two future first-round selections, the suggested deal would make a lot of sense for New Orleans. It would allow them to add two reliable contributors in LaVine and Markkanen, who perfectly fit the timeline of Ingram and Williamson.

Buckley believes that the potential arrival of LaVine and Markkanen in New Orleans would bring the much-needed improvement to the Pelicans in terms of scoring and floor-spacing.

"Despite getting more than 46 points per contest from its top two stars, New Orleans sits just 20th in offensive efficiency due to a severe shooting shortage (29th in threes, 28th in three-point percentage). LaVine and Markkanen would immediately scratch that itch. Together, they're splashing six triples per night at a combined 39.1 percent clip. They'd immediately jolt this offense, and if New Orleans is ready to commit to both, it might have its foundation fully set. LaVine would be the senior member of this quartet at 25 years old. Ingram and Markkanen are 23. Williamson won't turn 21 until July."

Lauri Markkanen #24 rubs the shoulders of teammate Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls before their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center on October 23, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Getty Images | Streeter Lecka

Though it wouldn't make them an instant title contender, pairing Ingram and Williamson with LaVine and Markkanen could turn the Pelicans from a rebuilding team into a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference. If they grow together and build good chemistry, the Pelicans could form a fearsome foursome in New Orleans.

If the deal is pushed through, it wouldn't only be beneficial for the Pelicans, but also for the Bulls. By sending LaVine and Markkanen to New Orleans, they would receive enough assets that they need to jumpstart another rebuild. Bledsoe may only be included in the deal for salary-matching purposes, but he could also serve as a great mentor to the Bulls' young guards such as Coby White, Devon Dotson, and Adam Mokoka.