Grading the trade for the Chicago Bulls
This trade marks the beginning of the end for the Bulls. After multiple years of disappointment, it's finally time for Chicago to cut ties with their best asset, Zach LaVine.
With potential trades for Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and even Alex Caruso soon, the return is more about recouping assets than filling the departed players' vacated roles. Similar to what the Brooklyn Nets did a season ago.
In this hypothetical trade, Chicago would only send out two pieces, LaVine and Patrick Williams. LaVine is on the books for two more seasons and potentially a third, as he has a player option in his age-31 season. Over those three seasons, he's owed more than $120 million.
On the flip side, Williams is only owed $10 million this season, before he hits restricted free agency in the 2024 offseason. If Williams isn't offered a long-term deal, he'll likely get the chance to prove his worth on a restricted tender, worth nearly $13 million.
LaVine is a bonafide star and worth every penny, despite some defensive deficiencies. However, Williams is largely unproven. He's played three seasons in the association but hasn't shown much improvement.
Williams is averaging career lows in points and rebounds this season. A fresh opportunity may be exactly what the young forward needs to kickstart his career.
Outgoing are LaVine and Williams, incoming are Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Jaden Hardy, and Maxi Kleber. And of course, Chicago would acquire multiple draft picks in exchange for LaVine's services.
Herro would get his shot at becoming the alpha scorer in Chicago, as long as DeRozan is shipped out soon thereafter. In a larger role, it's likely Herro would average LaVine-like numbers.
The ancillary pieces, Jaquez Jr., Hardy, and Kleber would all be quality additions. Jaquez Jr. is only 22 years old, while Hardy is 21. The Heat forward is already making his mark in the league. Jaquez Jr. is averaging 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 23 minutes per game.
Hardy hasn't received ample playing time this season, but he's a spark-plug scorer who still has time to develop into a well-rounded player. Kleber is the eldest of the group but still provides floor-spacing and versatile defense.
Potential starting lineup: Coby White, Tyler Herro, DeMar DeRozan, Torrey Craig, Nikola Vucevic
The Bulls receive a B for this trade. A few years ago, the grade would have been worse. But as of late, teams have received less for stars in trades. For instance, the Portland Trail Blazers only received one unprotected first-rounder in the Damian Lillard trade.
It could be argued Tyler Herro is on the same level as LaVine. However, LaVine has performed at a high level for half a decade now. For all we know, his fit on the Heat may be better than his fit on the Bulls.