An All-Star with Los Angeles roots who's set to become a free agent is the perfect cocktail to induce wild speculation. Bull's swingman Zach Lavine is set to become a free agent this summer and a recent appearance in a TMZ Sports video, along with a classic LaVar Ball comment, have spurned wild rumors that Lavine could end up with the Lakers this offseason.
Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, a NBA salary cap expert, noted the complexities of the Lakers somehow landing Lavine. We're talking double-black-diamond-during-a snowstorm level of difficulty here.
Pincus explained that the only avenue the Lakers can explore in order to get Lavine is facilitating a sign-and-trade with Chicago. Lavine gets his money, the Lakers get their player. It would also require the Lakers to jettison Russell Westbrook and his $47M expiring deal.
But let's live in the fantasy for a bit - would inking Lavine to long term deal at an annual average of $37M be a good move for the Lakers?
Lavine has been an All-Star in his last two seasons with Chicago. The silky smooth Lavine can clearly score (25.8 PPG 2020-2022), shoot (40.4% 3PT%), and sacrifice for the betterment of the team. After Chicago, not Los Angeles, signed DeMar DeRozan last offseason, the former UCLA Bruin embraced his new teammate and adapted his game as the Bulls got out to a hot start.
Unlike Westbrook, Lavine has proven that he's willing to accept his role on a roster, even if it's not his preferred choice.
Like Westbrook, he leaves a lot to be desired on the defensive end of the floor.
Signing a 27-year-old two-time All-Star is typically a smart move, but his history of knee injuries is a bit concerning. This week, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his routinely achy left knee.
Lavine hasn't played more than 70 games since his sophomore season in Minnesota (2015-2016).
Do the Lakers want to hard-cap themselves in a hypothetical trade and swap Westbrook out with for a player almost as fragile as Anthony Davis and have him under contract for years to come?
If LeBron leaves the Lakers in the future, would a tandem of Lavine and Davis be able to contend for a title in what should be a highly competitive Western Conference?
The Lakers need to upgrade their roster next season, but they need a couple of ten-yard completions, not a Hail Mary pass.