Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is rightfully upset with their rough 4-7 start this season.
Yet amid the latest round of trade talks surrounding him, which flared up again this week, LaVine took a different approach than he normally does. Instead of shutting them down on Wednesday, he dodged the questions.
He didn’t really want to get into it.
“Right now is not the time to really talk about that,” LaVine said Wednesday, . “Play the Orlando Magic tonight, try and get a win. If something comes out later on, that will be the time I talk about it.”
Read into that however much you want to, but it is a different approach for the 28-year-old. During training camp earlier this fall, LaVine completely shut down speculation that he was the subject of trade talks within the Bulls front office. He told ESPN of those rumors that his “camp isn’t putting them out,” and he was “committed” to the Bulls.
On Tuesday, The Athlete’s Shams Charania reported that teams around the league were “probing” the availability of LaVine, and that there “is increased openness from both sides about exploring a trade.” The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are all reportedly interested in making a deal.
Developing: NBA teams are probing the availability of Bulls two-time All-Star Zach LaVine and there is increased openness from both sides about exploring a trade, sources say.
Details at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/2UvELP2lMG
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 14, 2023
Though it’s unclear how far potential trade talks have progressed, if at all, LaVine insisted he’s not part of that conversation.
“That’s why I have representatives like Rich Paul,” LaVine said of his agent, . “If he speaks on my behalf, that’s my agent. That’s who I obviously have my camp with. They talk to [general manager] Arturas [Karnisovas] and them. My job is to go out here and play. Simple as that.”
LaVine: ‘If you’re in a winning situation … things don’t come up’
LaVine has averaged 21.9 points and 4.8 rebounds this headed into Wednesday night’s game against the Magic. LaVine is in his 10th season in the league, and the second year of a five-year, $215 million deal with the Bulls.
The Bulls haven’t been very good since LaVine came on board, either — especially recently. They’ve been to the playoffs just once since LaVine was traded to the Bulls from the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of the 2017-18 campaign, and they’ve had just one winning season. They lost in the play-in tournament last season, and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round of the 2021-22 season.
The team has a solid group around him with DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, but Lonzo Ball is still dealing with a knee injury and will miss at least two full seasons. And after just a 4-7 start this season, it’s easy to see why LaVine is “frustrated.” They’re still not winning.
“I think if you’re not frustrated, that’s a problem,” he said . “It’s an upsetting thing when we’ve been trying to do the right thing for the last three or four years. It seems like we’re in the same place. We’re trying to get over that hump.”
Regardless of how real these latest trade rumors are surrounding him, LaVine knows there’s one thing that will truly quiet them. For now, at least outwardly, that’s what he’s focused on.
“If you’re in a winning situation, a lot of rumors and trade things don’t come up,” he said. “Obviously, we want to get a win tonight and get things back on track.”