As winter weather gets colder the NBA trade talk will keep getting warmer and warmer as we move toward the Feb. 8 trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls will be right in the middle of all of it.
Chicago is looking to trade Zach LaVine but finding the market thin for the former All-Star wing. The Bulls were hoping as we moved past Christmas and into the new year the market for LaVine will heat up — and that’s just about when he is due to return from foot inflammation. However, until that happens, he told the media he is still all-in with his Bulls teammates. Via K.C. Johnson at NBC Sports Chicago:
"Am I still a part of this team and very committed? Yeah. I got a Bulls jersey on. I committed here. And for as long as I'll be here, I'll still support and love Chicago and go out there and play my heart out for those guys. That's never going to change.
"There's going to be different stories and narratives. And there's going to be off-the-court stuff that's going to be dealt with. For me, as long as I'm here with a Bulls jersey on, I'm going to play as hard as I can for my teammates and continue to be the best player and teammate I can be. Simple as that.”
Both the Bulls and Lavine are ready to move on, and Chicago is looking for a trade, but other teams are more interested in Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan. The Bulls are "hesitant" to deal Caruso, NBC Sports’ Johnson said in another piece.
All I can say is I've reported they've been hesitant to [trade Caruso] to this point. Now, that obviously can change between now and the Feb. 8 deadline. And there likely will be solid offers for Caruso, who is the perfect over-the-top piece for championship contending teams. There's also a scenario in which, in order to trade LaVine, Caruso may have to be included. But Caruso is arguably this regime's greatest success story and he is the perfect embodiment of the culture the franchise wants to project. Trading him would be painful for this management team; I can assure you that.
Caruso — the defensive specialist shooting 47.8% from 3 — as a sweetener in a LaVine trade is an interesting idea, but it would mean about $50 million in matching salary going back to Chicago. Not many contending/playoff teams can make that work (with players they are willing to surrender or that the Bulls would accept).
This is going to be a long process, and it is still more likely DeMar DeRozan is traded before LaVine or Caruso go on the move, no matter what the Bulls want.
Expect a lot more Bulls trade rumors as we move toward Christmas and into the heart of the NBA trade season.