Zach LaVine is one of the most talented players in the game right now because he is an offensive machine when he gets into his rhythm. Starting off as an incredible dunker with explosive hops, LaVine has worked on his game to add a sniper of a long-range shot and also improved his passing ability.
But make no mistake, Zach is a score-first shooting guard that makes no apologies for wanting to be one of the best players on a championship team. He has made a name for himself in Chicago in recent years and will be a free agent this summer. Surprisingly, LaVine has admitted that he wants to enjoy free agency and will entertain any strong offers from top franchises around the league.
Bulls fans are holding their breath because losing LaVine would ultimately kill their chances of being an immediate title contender next season. It seems DeMar DeRozan is in for the long haul, and so are Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. But LaVine will look at free agency with the intention of finding the best possible place for him in three areas: individual success, team success, and monetary backing. Here are the top-5 destinations for the 2-time All-Star shooting guard this summer, with 4 of them able to offer sign-and-trade deals.
5. Denver Nuggets
Trade Package: Michael Porter, Monte Morris, 2022 First Round Pick, 2026 First Round Pick For Zach LaVine
Denver has built a solid roster by developing young players such as Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr while giving the keys to the franchise to superstar Nikola Jokic. But in order to make major moves and surround Jokic with yet another All-Star, they have to sacrifice Porter Jr and Monte Morris. By moving on from two key players who are making considerable money, the Nuggets can form a solid Big Three with Jokic, Murray, and LaVine.
In fact, the answer to Denver’s prayers for a championship could be Zach LaVine, a talented scorer who can not only space the floor but create his own offense. One might be wondering how the duo of LaVine and Murray can co-exist as they are both offensive guards that love to create for themselves. But LaVine is young at age 27, and Murray is 25 meaning they have plenty of space to learn and grow alongside each other.
Zach might also want to build something strong in a new city, and Denver would welcome him with open arms. Expect the Nuggets to strongly pursue LaVine because they are clearly promising Nikola Jokic that they will sign another star player to help him win games. Nikola is a superstar at age 27, and he has at least 6 more years at a superstar level to keep the Denver Nuggets in contention in the West.
4. Atlanta Hawks
Trade Package: John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, 2022 First Round Pick For Zach LaVine
The Atlanta Hawks had a terrible season this past year. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, they faltered to a play-in spot and were dealt handily by the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. It was shocking to see the Hawks struggle throughout the year because they have a legitimate superstar on the roster in Trae Young. Young was sensational this season by averaging 28.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 9.7 APG on 46.0% shooting from the field and 38.2% from three.
Young is a player that will excel around shooters and defenders, which is why the Hawks will need to acquire Zach LaVine to give their point guard some help on the floor. In order to do this, the Hawks need to agree to a sign and trade and move some of their high-salary parts. Some names that have been mentioned over the past two seasons are John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic. These players will likely give Chicago what they might be looking for instead of losing LaVine for nothing. At the same time, Atlanta finally gets help for Young on the court.
LaVine immediately becomes the best player that Trae Young has played with because he can legitimately average 25 PPG with ease and give the Hawks a go-to scorer who can help Trae create offense. Of course, he is an elite sharpshooter from the field who nailed 38.9% from three and averaged 41.9% of his shots last year. LaVine would also help the Hawks get back into top-4 contention in the East as soon as next season.
3. New York Knicks
Trade Package: Julius Randle, Derrick Rose, Obi Toppin, 2022 First Round Pick For Zach LaVine
The New York Knicks are another team that struggled mightily this year, and Knicks fans were not happy about that. Julius Randle is an All-Star when he is in form, but he struggled from the floor this year and did not have an impact on the court. Last year, Randle won Most Improved Player and earned his first All-Star selection, leading the Knicks back into the playoffs.
But critics have mainly blamed Randle for the Knicks’ poor season, and the big man might be better off with another team at this moment. In order for New York to acquire a go-to scorer of LaVine’s caliber, it might have to come at the expense of current franchise player, Julius Randle. New York need to acquire an All-Star perimeter scorer who can create his own offense and score the ball consistently. Clearing the roster of an older point guard in Derrick Rose and a decent but unspectacular big in Obi Toppin also hands the keys to a massive market to LaVine.
For Zach, leading the charge in New York would be a huge achievement in his career. Of course, the Knicks will bring excitement back to the fanbase. The goal should be to move on from Randle and other deadweight players, and start building around LaVine should they acquire him. For Chicago, Rose gets a welcome back story and Randle can form a better pairing with Nikola Vucevic in the paint rather than with anyone else in New York.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Trade Package: Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen, 2022 First Round Pick for Zach LaVine
Outside of re-signing with Chicago and trying to build a name for himself as the first winner since Michael Jordan, Zach LaVine would fit in perfectly with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are an exceptional team because of their ball movement and unselfishness, and they already have two other star players in Darius Garland and Evan Mobley. If Cleveland can move Collin Sexton and All-Star Jarrett Allen in a sign and trade, they could bring on another shooter.
A lineup with Garland, LaVine, and Mobley would be difficult to defend against while the Cavaliers start focusing on the development of Evan Mobley over Jarrett Allen. Allen is a better defender than Mobley at this moment, but there is no doubt that Evan Mobley has the potential to be a better scorer and all-around talent in the NBA. Fielding LaVine in Cleveland’s elite offensive scheme would be incredible to watch.
Most importantly, LaVine gets his best shot at becoming a legitimate leader of a franchise while the young guys develop. He will be playing with 2 other potential superstar players and some other exciting talent on a team under a great head coach as well. Zach can space the floor almost as well as Cleveland’s shooters, and his willingness to be unselfish is another major reason why he will benefit greatly from leading and playing with the Cavaliers’ stars.
1. Chicago Bulls
Chicago fans will be hoping and praying that their franchise player remains with the team. Even if DeMar DeRozan has won over the fans’ hearts during the year with exceptional performances, Zach LaVine is just as important to the team. Without Zach playing at an All-Star level, the Bulls do not have a shot at being a title contender. Luckily, it is not out of the question that LaVine re-signs with the Bulls.
LaVine has made the last two All-Star Teams with the Bulls and the franchise gave him his first true chance to become a perennial All-Star in the league. He has put up over 23 PPG the last 4 years, and he had a career-high 27.4 PPG last season on 50.7% from the field and 41.9% from three. It is expected that LaVine continues putting up similar numbers going forward.
For LaVine, he might find that the Bulls offer the best selection of players around him at this moment in time. DeRozan is a bonafide All-Star, and Nikola Vucevic is a talented big who can shoot and score inside. Of course, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are key guards on the team and should be healthy next year. If Chicago can allow Patrick Williams to blossom or potentially trade him in a package for another impact player, LaVine should be happy re-signing with the Bulls.