Knicks, Blazers Favored to Poach LaVine From Bulls

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  • Zach LaVine is a -200 favorite to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls this summer.
  • The New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers have the best non-Bulls odds to land LaVine at +750.
  • LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after playing out his contract with the Bulls.

Zach LaVine will enter unrestricted free agency this summer and according to rumors, he could be in play for other NBA teams.

Online sportsbook Bovada has opened the odds for LaVine’s team next season and while the Bulls are the heavy -200 betting favorites to resign the sweet-shooting guard, teams like the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers are in the mix at +750 or an 11.8% implied probability.

Chicago could have extended LaVine last summer but he would have eaten up the salary cap space that they used to build a good team around him. The Bulls had one of the best free agency classes among NBA teams as they acquired DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso and immediately became one of the top teams in the league early in the season.

The Bulls were on top of the East after the All-Star break before injuries dragged them down the standings. Chicago was dominated by Milwaukee in the opening round of the playoffs and LaVine wasn’t even there at the end due to COVID-19 protocols. Still, there are plenty of reasons for LaVine to return. But the lure of joining another superstar elsewhere plus the max contract could be appealing to him.

That’s where teams like the Knicks and Blazers come in.

Blazers Linked to Zach LaVine

The Blazers are the main team linked to LaVine. Portland is currently around $38 million under the tax line entering the offseason and can open up more cap space to sign LaVine to a max deal. The Blazers can renounce the non-fully guaranteed contracts of Eric Bledsoe ($19.3 million) and Josh Hart ($12.9 million) to make room for LaVine while renouncing Jusuf Nurkic’s cap hold and forfeiting their $20 million trade exception.

New York meanwhile, was one of the teams that were monitoring LaVine during the 2021 trade deadline, even going as far as doing background work on the former dunk champion. LaVine played under Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota so there is a connection there. The Knicks have moveable veteran contracts and plenty of draft assets to swing a deal. Madison Square Garden is the big stage where LaVine would thrive in.

Next on the Bovada odds board is the San Antonio Spurs at +1000 who are on a rebuild and have the $36.6 million cap space needed to sign LaVine. Pairing him with Dejounte Murray would produce an explosive backcourt. The Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks are listed at +1200 while the Dallas Mavericks are at +1600. Brooklyn at +1800, Philadelphia at +4000, and Charlotte at +5000 complete the betting board.

LaVine Recently Made a Local Partnership in Chicago

Although it was just a business decision, Lavine making a local partnership with Midwest Express Clinic could be a sign that he is staying put in Chicago. Agreeing to become the brand ambassador of a company that serves the Northern Indiana and Chicago markets wouldn’t be something that someone who wants a change in scenery would do. And yes,
the Bulls can offer $56 million more than the other teams so if it’s about the money, Chicago can offer him the biggest contract.

According to NBA salary cap expert Bobby Marks, the Bulls can offer LaVine a maximum contract of $212.3 million over five years whereas other teams can only offer him $157.4 million over four years. Considering that the top teams linked to LaVine right now missed the playoffs in 2022, staying in the Windy City would likely give him more success next season.

Despite their first-round exit in the 2022 playoffs, the Chicago Bulls took a step in the right direction. Their 46 wins were their most since 2015 and they made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Had they not lost Lonzo Ball to injury midseason, the Bulls could have won more games and finished higher in the standings.

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