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After making several win-now moves in the previous offseason, the Chicago Bulls could lose one of their key members before the 2022-2023 NBA season.

Chicago All-Star Zach LaVine is set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Over the last five seasons, LaVine starred for the Bulls as their franchise player.

Going into the 2021-2022 season, the Bulls built around LaVine by adding prospects such as DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball. When healthy, the new-look Bulls thrived throughout the 2021-2022 season, but injuries set them back.

By the end of the year, the Bulls finished with a 46-36 record, which placed them in the sixth seed of the Eastern Conference. The Bulls met with the third-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round and found themselves dipping out of the postseason early as they lost the series 4-1. 

Now, the Bulls face an important question: Will Zach LaVine be back? Or is the veteran forward searching for his third NBA organization since coming to the league?

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, LaVine’s future is quite uncertain at this time.

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“A prominent topic of conversation this week has been Zach LaVine’s future. Opinion — some of it educated, some of it guesswork — is varied on what the Chicago Bulls’ two-time All-Star guard will do when he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1.

But this much is certain: His return to the Bulls no longer is considered the slam dunk it once was.

Whether that stems from LaVine’s own exit interview with local reporters in late April or a genuine belief he will leave the franchise that still can pay him the most is unknown. What’s certain is that league gossip throughout this week has linked LaVine to at least four teams — Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Hawks — with almost certainly more to follow.”

With DeRozan in Chicago surrounded by a solid supporting cast, the Bulls could still be playoff contenders in the East next season without LaVine. However, missing the two-time All-Star would certainly make the Bulls less of a threat.

LaVine’s uncertain future in Chicago could be good for the Philadelphia 76ers in more ways than one. Not only would a direct Eastern Conference contender become weaker without one of its top stars, but LaVine hitting the open market could interest the Sixers.

Lately, a rumor has indicated the Sixers are looking to acquire a third star for next season to pair alongside James Harden and Joel Embiid. While many assumed the Sixers are eyeing up Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, LaVine could soon become an intriguing prospect for Daryl Morey and the Sixers’ front office as well.

If and when the 27-year-old multi-time All-Star hits the open market, there will be a lot of teams gunning for LaVine’s services. While the Sixers aren’t among those mentioned as teams that have been recently linked to the former 13th overall pick, it wouldn’t come as a shock if that changes soon. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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