We are less than a month into the 2023-24 NBA season and the Los Angeles Lakers have already been thrown into substantial NBA trade rumors. After NBA insider Shams Charania reported that there is openness between the Chicago Bulls and Zach LaVine to find a potential trade, many pointed toward the Lakers as a potential destination for the two-time all-star.
While his box-score numbers look great, trading for LaVine would ultimately be a bad move for the purple and gold. Los Angeles already learned what happens if it tries to force a big three with Russell Westbrook. LaVine is a different style of player but the results would be similar.
That does not mean that the Lakers cannot capitalize on a potential Chicago fire sale, however. If the Bulls are willing to trade LaVine it is fair to say that the team would be willing to trade other assets on the roster. If that is the case, Rob Pelinka should be making a call to pull off a very specific trade package.
The Lakers should be trading for Alex Caruso, not Zach LaVine.
If Los Angeles and Chicago are going to do business then it needs to be centered around former Laker Alex Caruso, not Klutch Sports client Zach LaVine. No, it should not be a deal where both players are involved; it should be a deal just for Caruso. Here is what a potential deal would likely look like:
Caruso has one more year under contract after the 2023-24 season and this would be fair value for the defensive role player. In this trade, Chicago would essentially be getting a first-round pick as they would get guard Jalen Hood-Schifino in return. The Bulls would also receive another young player with potential in Max Christie, as well as two second-round picks to sweeten the deal.
This is a savvy move for Los Angeles as the team wouldn’t be giving up any future first-round picks. Sure, JHS is a first-round pick from the 2023 NBA Draft, but he is definitely expendable for a team that wants to win a championship.
If the Lakers can make a trade that improves the team’s title odds (which this does) then there should be no hesitation in moving JHS. Hood-Schifino has potential and may one day blossom into a solid two-way guard but that timeline does not match up with the Lakers’ contending timeline.
The same can be said for Christie, who has proven early on this season that he is not ready for the big leap production-wise that fans were expecting. With Christie’s contract expiring after this season, it makes more sense to trade him to a team that will want to keep him around and develop him rather than potentially just letting him walk in free agency.
In return for all of this, the Lakers get someone who would instantly bolster the team’s perimeter defense. Caruso knows what it takes to succeed next to LeBron James and he would help form some truly menacing defensive lineups alongside Jarred Vanderbilt and Anthony Davis.