Let’s make one thing clear from the start, it’s absolutely in the best interest of the Chicago Bulls that Zach LaVine re-signs. Max money. Max years. Key to the city. Whatever Zach needs to feel valued and fairly compensated for his work, the Bulls better be willing to cough it up to secure their star. Without LaVine, the road to contention would become almost impossible to navigate.
That being said, his return to Chicago isn’t a decision for the Bulls to make. Should LaVine decide he wants to join up with another team in free agency, the Bulls are much better off seeking a sign-and-trade where they can recoup as many assets as possible.
Among the leading candidates to acquire LaVine is the Dallas Mavericks. With Luka Doncic quickly becoming one of the NBA’s top talents, it’s easy to see why Dallas could be an attractive destination for a star with championship aspirations like LaVine.
While the Bulls may hope to re-sign Zach LaVine this summer, the Mavericks have emerged as a top potential sign-and-trade candidate.
Marc Stein reports the possibility of Dallas trading for Zach LaVine is already being seriously considered.
“Sources nonetheless maintain that one option already being weighed by team brass is the prospect of joining the sign-and-trade bidding for the Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine, amid a growing belief around the league that LaVine, as he heads into free agency, has more interest in leaving Chicago than initially presumed.”
If the Bulls are to negotiate a sign-and-trade that sends LaVine to Dallas, I believe there’s a clear hierarchy in the players the team should be targeting.
3. Dorian Finney-Smith
Of the core members of this Dallas Mavericks roster, Dorian Finney-Smith is among the most beloved, and for good reason. Finney-Smith has quietly become one of the league’s premier “3-and-D” talents where that archetype now more valued than ever before.
DFS has taken over 1,000 three-point attempts over the last three seasons and has knocked them down at an extremely dependable 38.9% rate. He’s also usually tasked with defending the other team’s best scoring forward on the wing. Considering 3-point shooting and defense are two of the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses, Finney-Smith would be a welcome addition in the Windy City.
He wouldn’t be the only newcomer though, should this hypothetical trade go through. Since LaVine would count as approximately $40 million incoming salary for Dallas (but only $20 million outgoing for Chicago), the Mavericks would have to tack on extra talent to Finney Smith’s $12.4 million contract.
The most likely scenario to make this deal go through would involve Dallas also attaching one of Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, or Reggie Bullock to match LaVine’s $20 million. The Mavericks would also send Davis Bertans and a draft pick or two to be absorbed by a team with cap space to make this work.
Kleber and Powell sound like particularly enticing options, as the Bulls lack a true supporting big man behind Nikola Vucevic in the rotation. Powell and Kleber were fifth and sixth on the roster in terms of total minutes played this season, clearly demonstrating how valuable they were to the Western Conference Finalists.
Losing a player like LaVine for little more than quality depth and rotation players would surely sting, but it’s a far better alternative than losing him for nothing (or even worse, trading him for Russell Westbrook).