Exploring the likelihood of a Knicks trade for Zach LaVine

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket as New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) defends during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden.
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket as New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) defends during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks have been mentioned in several reports, including a recent report from HoopsHype, as a team that could have interest in Zach LaVine if he’s made available via trade.

A few notes on the Knicks and Zach Lavine:

The Knicks and the Nets had been monitoring LaVine as a potential trade target back in the 2020 offseason. That was Leon Rose’s first offseason as team president. LaVine, at the time, was extension eligible and planning to hit free agency in 2022.

LaVine had fans within the Knicks organization at that point. I believe there was an understanding at the time that the price to acquire LaVine in a deal was significant. Obviously, Rose and the Knicks were unwilling to meet that significant asking price at the time.

Fast forward two years later, and LaVine’s situation bears watching again.

The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors are among the clubs that opposing teams are monitoring to see which direction they go at the deadline. Both have performed below expectations. Neither had shown an inclination to move its top players as of late last month.

Zach LaVine
Zach LaVine / USA Today

Could that change if the Bulls and Raptors continue to struggle? Of course it can. That’s why teams are keeping on eye on both the Bulls and Raptors – and presumably many other teams – as the trade deadline draws near. That’s why a member of the Knicks reached out to Toronto a few weeks ago to check in about OG Anunoby.

And that’s why you will probably continue to hear a lot about LaVine, who is eligible to be traded on January 15.

The Knicks have the draft picks to make an enticing offer to Chicago. They could make the money work with Evan Fournier, hometown favorite Derrick Rose and a combination of picks and young players (Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, Cam Reddish? I’d assume that Quentin Grimes is off the table. RJ Barrett is not eligible to be traded.)

New York has the assets to swing a deal for a player like LaVine. And, as noted earlier, Tom Thibodeau has had a healthy respect for LaVine even after trading him for Jimmy Butler when he was the coach/president in Minnesota.

Also, I’d expect the Knicks to do their due diligence any time a star player may become available. They’re built to acquire a star via trade. One of the reasons Leon Rose was brought in – fair or not – was to acquire a star player. So that will always be on the table for New York – until they swing a big deal.

Just my two cents: as long as the Knicks continue to win and remain at or above .500, I’d be surprised if they executed a trade on the magnitude of a LaVine deal ahead of the February deadline. A deal with that magnitude seems more likely to happen in the offseason. But that’s just my opinion. We’ll see how things play out in Chicago, Toronto and elsewhere over the next few weeks.