Detroit Pistons Mentioned as Potential Trade Partner for Bulls Star

The Detroit Pistons could join a crowded trade market for Chicago Bulls star, Zach LaVine.
Dec 30, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) defends Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) defends Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) during the second half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

For the second summer in a row, the Chicago Bulls have eyes on them as their star forward Zach LaVine could become one of the most notable players on the league’s trade block.

Last year, there was a lot of smoke surrounding a potential LaVine-Chicago divorce. As the two-time All-Star is owed a boatload of money for years to come, it was believed the Bulls could look to hit a soft reset with the assets they would acquire in a LaVine package.

But the fact that LaVine is owed hundred of millions of dollars leaves his suitors hesitant to offer a desirable package in the eyes of the Bulls. LaVine remained in Chicago for the start of the 2023-2024 NBA season.

As it became clear there was tension brewing, the trade talks grew louder during the season. It was all quickly silenced when LaVine went down with an injury.

Last season, LaVine appeared in just 25 games for the Bulls. It’s unclear if his time spent off the court could allow everybody to return to Chicago in the fall with a clear mind and ready to make the relationship work again, but it’s apparent the trade smoke has not disappeared.

Last week, a Bulls insider suggested this could be the year the Bulls part ways with LaVine. The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry considers the LaVine saga as one of the organization’s biggest question marks this offseason once again.

“The Bulls have outgrown him,” Mayberry writes. “Rival teams aren’t sure LaVine is worth the commitment. LaVine is coming off right foot surgery and has three years and $138 million left on his contract.”

Bulls star Zach LaVine guarded by Detroit Pistons star, Cade Cunningham.
Nov 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) is defended by Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) and guard Killian Hayes (7) during the first half at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports / Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the state of the contract, rival teams might struggle to see any LaVine trade price tag as a bargain. But as long as the market remains dry for a second straight offseason, there could be a point where Chicago places a justifiable price on LaVine’s services.

In the event that happens, Mayberry anticipated “more than a dozen” teams who are in need of a jolt to reach out. As expected, the Detroit Pistons could be one of them.

If there is one thing the Pistons learned looking from the outside in at the Bulls, it’s that Zach LaVine isn’t putting a team on his shoulders and leading through the playoffs on his own. With the Bulls, LaVine has helped achieve a winning percentage of 42 across nearly 400 games.

For what it’s worth, the Bulls have lacked a reliable playmaker for most of LaVine’s time in Chicago. With Lonzo Ball, the Bulls held a 22-13 record and looked like legitimate threats in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, a knee injury derailed his progress for multiple seasons.

Perhaps pairing LaVine alongside a young and emerging playmaker, Cade Cunningham, could help unlock the All-Star level that LaVine clearly possesses.

There might come a time when the Pistons grow desperate to land a notable star. As a 14-win team in the previous season, the Pistons’ league-leading cap space isn’t attractive enough for some of the league’s top free agents. And if any of the top-tier stars land a big bag in Detroit, many will wonder about the player’s will to win, considering the state of their franchise.

Detroit could make their splash in the trade market. They’ll have to think long and hard about whether it’s worth paying LaVine so much over the next two or potentially three seasons, but it’s not a scenario they can afford to look the other way on.

Now is the time to show Cade Cunningham his time in Detroit won’t be wasted.

Justin Grasso