NBA Rumors: 4 Teams "Monitoring" Zach LaVine's Availability

It's safe to say that the situation is fluid in The Windy City. The Chicago Bulls are treading water, sitting in the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, and it's been clear this season that this team isn't going to be a true playoff contender as currently constructed. All teams are keeping an eye on the Bulls and their trade deadline plans, with special notice given to one player in particular—All-Star Zach LaVine.

His name has come up in trade speculation, and I’ve reported that there are plenty of teams that, if he’s put on the market – and I preface that with the word “if” – If he were to be put on the market, the (New York) Knicks, (Los Angeles) Lakers, Dallas (Mavericks), and Miami (Heat) are certainly monitoring if he’ll become available or not.

                                                                                —Michael Scotto, HoopsHype 

LaVine has been an All-Star in two consecutive seasons, and has averaged at least 23.7 points per game for four straight years coming into this one. He just signed a 5-year, $215M max contract this past summer, so any team interested would have to take on all of that money. And, as Scotto notes, all of the risk associated with his troublesome knee.

"What’s interesting about that to me and other executives I’ve spoken to around the league is there would also be a bit of a question regarding, in their eyes, the health of his knee," writes Scotto, "because if the Bulls just signed him and look to flip him that quickly, it almost raises your antenna a little bit." i.e. are the Bulls themselves concerned about the long-term health of LaVine's knee?

But Bulls reporter KC Johnson refutes that argument, saying that "(LaVine's) knee is healthy, and the numbers are healthier. He looks more like himself of late, which is why you’re going to have some trade speculation between now and Feb. 9."

Indeed, in six January games, LaVine is averaging 30.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while shooting the lights out, at 46.8% from long-distance. He is in full All-Star form. 

Still, Johnson says, "hypothetically speaking, a 10-game losing streak would certainly change some long-term thinking. Right now, I see LaVine drawing interest, so you never say never, but I’d be surprised if the Bulls move off him."

Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports