NBA Rumors: New York Knicks Continue To Monitor Zach LaVine
High-scoring Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine has been the subject of trade rumors for much of his time in the Windy City. That continues to be the case now, even as the team has gotten off to one of its better starts in recent memory. Multiple teams are said to be considering making a run at the two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion, including the New York Knicks.
Per SportsNet New York‘s NBA insider Ian Begley, the Knicks have continued to monitor LaVine’s situation with the Bulls to prepare for the possibility that he becomes available in future trade talks.
Begley first reported on New York’s interest in the 25-year-old last summer, indicating that both the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are among the clubs that had done background work on a potential acquisition. Since that time, the Nets made their big move to pry former NBA MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets, which may preclude them from pursuing LaVine.
The Knicks, however, could still significantly bolster their backcourt with a player of LaVine’s caliber.
As tracked by Basketball-Reference, the UCLA alum is averaging a career-best 27 points, 5.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds through 17 games this season. He’s also scoring more efficiently than ever before, making nearly 40 percent of his nearly nine three-point attempts per contest while continuing to get to the free-throw line at a better than average rate.
Chicago continues to lose more than it wins, but the Bulls’ 7-10 record this season represents a marked improvement over what fans have come to expect from the rebuilding squad. LaVine’s impressive play has been an important part of the turnaround effort.
Still, it might not be shocking for the franchise to at least be considering offers.
As noted by NBC Sports‘ KC Johnson, via SNY, Bulls GM Arturas Karnisovas has prioritized future cap flexibility as he works to field a roster that can consistently win games. LaVine is scheduled to make $19.5 million this season, as well as next, and will likely be looking at a significant pay raise when he enters the open market as an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
If Karnisovas believes there’s a limit to how far the Bulls can go with LaVine leading the charge — or if they fear being saddled with a max-level salary — they could look to move him for some combination of cap relief and draft/developing assets. Should he become available, the Knicks will own an excess of first-round draft picks that could be used to facilitate a deal.
As reported by The Inquisitr, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report recently suggested a trade that would send LaVine to the Golden State Warriors.