Jazz Linked to New Zach LaVine Rumor

Zach LaVine would be an upgrade to the Utah Jazz backcourt, but doesn't come without risk.
Nov 6, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk (41) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

If Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge's comments about going 'Big Game Hunting' come to fruition, then Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine has a chance of calling Salt Lake City home this year. According to Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, the Jazz were a handful of franchises with proposals sent in an effort to move the All-Star guard. 

This rumor may have legs, considering the Bulls just traded Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey, paired with rumblings that changes are coming since a disappointing 2023-24 season in Chicago. According to Johnson, the other franchises that were in the mix included the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, and Orlando Magic. 

"It’s why Zach LaVine’s future isn’t the only trade scenario that has been discussed, even if sources said Karnišovas has floated as many as 15 proposals centered on the two-time All-Star guard to various teams including the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers."

Acquiring LaVine would be a major acquisition for the Jazz and would put any thoughts that they'll be tanking the 2024-25 season to bed. However, it's a move that wouldn't come without some risk due to a history of being hit by the injury bug. Despite being 29 years of age, he's already had three surgeries under his belt, paired with participating in only 25 contests this last season.

As for his contract, it's certainly not considered team-friendly, either. He would be under team control for two seasons with a player option in 2027. Utah would be on the hook for a guaranteed 89 million over two years and another 48 million if LaVine chose to opt in for year three.

If the Jazz did choose to trade for LaVine, it wouldn't require much due to his injury history and absorbent contract. Most likely, Jordan Clarkson and John Collins would be part of the equation to help match his salary, but not much after that. Also, with Lauri Markkanen's contract looming, having two max players on Utah's roster would mean adding a difference-maker through free agency would be unlikely.

Trading for LaVine would be a high-reward or high-risk proposition. Having a starting backcourt of LaVine and Keyonte George with Collin Sexton coming off the bench would be a huge upgrade with where things stand today. The Jazz could certainly use the size in their backcourt, and Markkanen would compliment LaVine's strengths with his ability to space the floor, giving him room to operate.

From this point of view, the trade only makes sense if Utah can make it happen without giving up Sexton or much draft capital. LaVine is a great player, but with only two guaranteed years and an injury history, the risk may be too much, with the Jazz being multiple pieces away from contending for a championship. 

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Patrick Byrnes

PATRICK BYRNES

Patrick Byrnes is the Deputy Editor of The Frozen Rope — SI.com's team website covering the Utah Jazz.