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Two-time All-Star Zach LaVine is expected to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls once the free-agency negotiation period opens June 30, sources told B/R.
LaVine’s free agency has generated plenty of conversation among NBA personnel over the past few weeks. But despite rumblings that the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers will make plays for LaVine, the coveted swingman is likely to remain with his current team.
Ironing out LaVine’s next deal appears centered on the fifth year of the contract. LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal totaling roughly $200 million. Whether that season is fully guaranteed, is a player option or nets other potential outcomes remains to be seen.
Bleacher Report previously wrote about LaVine’s purported desire to be a team’s unquestioned offensive centerpiece, unlike the setup with DeMar DeRozan. But among the teams in play for LaVine, only San Antonio could offer a clear No. 1 playmaking opportunity, and the Spurs are considered far off from the postseason environment LaVine prefers, leading to skepticism among rival executives that LaVine ever wanted to entertain options outside of Chicago.
Meanwhile, the Bulls remain invested in finding the optimal frontcourt lynchpin to pair with LaVine and DeRozan. Chicago continues to explore the trade market for two-time All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, sources said. It has registered interest in Rudy Gobert, but the Bulls do not appear willing to include Patrick Williams alongside Vucevic in a trade package for Gobert, sources told B/R.
Chicago is actively discussing the No. 18 pick and Coby White with rival teams.
Everyone (Minus Trae) Must Go in Atlanta?
The Hawks could be the most natural Gobert trade partner for the Utah Jazz.
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One relevant data point for those conversations: In 2019, when Jazz CEO of basketball operations Danny Ainge was still the president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, they held serious draft night trade discussions with the Houston Rockets about acquiring Clint Capela for Marcus Smart and the No. 22 pick, sources told B/R. The agreed-in-principle deal ultimately fell short, but the Rockets were targeting Brandon Clarke before the Memphis Grizzlies swept in to steal the Gonzaga product at No. 21.
There has been plenty of talk among league personnel that some combination of Capela, John Collins, Kevin Huerter and the No. 16 pick could be routed to Utah for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
In ongoing trade chatter around the league, Atlanta was believed to have made all players besides Trae Young available, but sources told B/R the team is now expected to retain De’Andre Hunter and agree to terms on a long-term contract extension.
It’s unclear how Bogdan Bogdanovic’s recent knee surgery, expected to sideline the 29-year-old swingman for roughly three months, will impact his value on the open market.
Atlanta has several key objectives on the trade front, sources told B/R. Aside from upgrading its roster around Young and Hunter, the Hawks are determined to free up playing time for promising big man Onyeka Okongwu ahead of his third professional season. Atlanta has also been motivated to find a backcourt counterpart for Young.
The Hawks were engaged with the New Orleans Pelicans in Jrue Holiday trade conversations before the veteran was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks in November 2020. More recently, Atlanta pursued CJ McCollum and Goran Dragic ahead of the February trade deadline, before being linked as a hopeful suitor for LaVine and Bradley Beal.
Collins is still being mentioned as a trade target for Portland while the Trail Blazers explore their options to add win-now talent around Damian Lillard in exchange for the No. 7 choice. Should a deal with Atlanta materialize, G League Ignite combo guard Dyson Daniels is believed to be a primary draft target for the Hawks, sources said.
Pacers Selling Veteran Talent?
Rival teams are once again monitoring the Indiana Pacers’ potential to jettison veteran talent, just as they offloaded Domantas Sabonis before the trade deadline.
Indiana widely explored the market for Myles Turner before the 26-year-old’s season ended because of a stress reaction in his left foot. The Pacers have since resumed trade conversations about Turner ahead of the draft, sources told B/R, in addition to engaging opposing front offices on point guard Malcolm Brogdon.
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Turner is a versatile center still close enough in age to Pacers floor general Tyrese Haliburton, the prized return for Sabonis from the Sacramento King. But Indiana has openly projected a willingness to further steer into a rebuild this offseason, sources said, with an eye toward acquiring young talent to play alongside the 22-year-old Halliburton.
As Marc Stein noted Monday, Turner’s impending free agency in 2023 seems to be clear grounds for the Pacers to re-engage his trade market this offseason, if there’s little momentum for a contract extension with Indiana. The Charlotte Hornets have long been considered a potential landing spot for Turner, and the Hornets have communicated around the league a willingness to move the No. 15 pick, sources said.
Other clues for potential Turner destinations: The Toronto Raptors remain focused on adding a starting-caliber center, and the New York Knicks expressed interest in Turner before the trade deadline as well.
The Knicks have also been linked to Brogdon in recent days by league personnel. New York is known to have interest in trading up from the No. 11 pick, with a perceived target of Purdue combo guard Jaden Ivey. But if New York doesn’t jump up the lottery order—league executives don’t forecast such a deal—and determines it is out of the running for free agent-to-be Jalen Brunson, Brogdon has been mentioned as one of several potential backup options for the Knicks to plug their hole at starting point guard.
The Pacers also have designs on acquiring an additional first-round pick besides their No. 6 selection, sources said. Indiana is exploring options to trade the No. 31 pick, plus the Cavaliers’ 2023 first-round pick, which was part of the Pacers’ return for Caris LeVert.
Ripple Effects from Denver-OKC Trade
The first trade of this transaction window came across the wire Monday, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Denver Nuggets sent JaMychal Green and a protected 2027 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 30 pick and two future second-rounders.
Green had been discussed in trade chatter since February. He has an $8.2 million player option for the 2022-23 season and will effectively become an expiring contract the Thunder could flip before the 2023 trade deadline. The veteran forward is expected to have value on the midseason market should he play for OKC next campaign.
With Denver having acquired the No. 30 pick, league sources expect the Nuggets will target a point guard such as Gonzaga ball-handler Andrew Nembhard. Denver has engaged various teams in trade conversations regarding Monte Morris, the sturdy reserve point guard who filled in as its starter with Jamal Murray sidelined for the season.
Some rival executives were prepared for Morris to be replaced by Serbian point guard Vasilije Micic, whose rights are held by OKC, as part of the Green trade. Micic, 28, led Turkish club Anadolu Efes to the 2020-21 EuroLeague title while winning the EuroLeague MVP and has garnered trade interest from several playoff teams, such as Milwaukee and Chicago, sources said.
Western Conference Finalists Dishing 1st-Rounders?
The Dallas Mavericks, picking No. 26, and Golden State Warriors, picking No. 28, are motivated to find deals for their late-first round selections, sources told B/R. Dallas and Golden State have expensive rosters that feature players such as Brunson, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins who are due for paydays.
The Mavericks and Warriors are searching for opportunities to acquire future draft capital for those selections, sources said, in the event a coveted player on their boards doesn’t fall. Another possible outcome is that they will select international draft-and-stash players.
The Lakers are widely known to be pursuing a second-round draft selection. The Hawks (No. 44) and Detroit Pistons (No. 46) have picks in the 40s that are considered available, sources said.