It’s long been thought that the class of NBA free agents in 2022 would be relatively underwhelming.
James Harden, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal and Kyrie Irving are all expected to either pick up their player options or re-sign with their current teams. However, the biggest name unrestricted free agent, Zach LaVine, may have had his head turned.
The 27-year-old has been with the Chicago Bulls since being traded for Jimmy Butler in 2017 and signed a four-year, $80 million contract the following summer after Chicago matched the offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings. For much of his tenure, the Bulls have floundered as a lottery team and repeatedly missed the Playoffs.
However, recent acquisitions of Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and, most crucially, DeMar DeRozan, saw the Bulls become a competitive team in the early stages of the 2021-22 season. So much so, they were sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference standings before a surge of injuries disrupted their record.
Still, the Bulls finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 46-36 record, ensuring that LaVine would may his debut in the NBA Playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks. Just as most NBA sportsbooks had anticipated, this was to be an uphill battle for the Bulls as they lost the series in five games.
At the conclusion of the series, LaVine underwent arthroscopic surgery to fix an issue in his left knee that had caused him to miss time through the season. It caused him to miss one of their five Playoff games where his scoring average dropped to 19.3 points per game from 24.4 in the regular season.
That hasn’t put potential suitors off from showing interest in the two-time All-Star, who has averaged just over 25 points per game in his last four seasons in the league. LaVine is undoubtedly the biggest name unrestricted free agent this summer and could help a team move the needle to become contenders.
Teams with cap space include the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers, with the latter two being the most heavily linked to LaVine. Both have All-Star point guards in DeJounte Murray and Damian Lillard respectively, who they will want to pair alongside LaVine to make a dynamic duo in their backcourt.
That said, both teams look as though they need a lot of roster reconstruction to really establish themselves as contenders. The Dallas Mavericks have emerged as a potential sign-and-trade option with a deal that would likely include point guard Jalen Brunson heading to Chicago.
Although the majority of fans would’ve initially expected LaVine to re-sign in Chicago, this is a deal which is no longer the foregone conclusion that some expected it to be. The shooting guard plans to explore his options in free agency and there are plenty of offshore sportsbooks that have already provided odds on where he could sign if he leaves the Bulls.
One of those is BetOnline, who have provided the following odds for LaVine’s next team if he does not re-sign with the Bulls.
Zach LaVine Next Team IF Not The Bulls Odds
- San Antonio Spurs +200
- Portland Trail Blazers +300
- Los Angeles Lakers +400
- Atlanta Hawks +500
- New York Knicks +600
- Miami Heat +700
- Indiana Pacers +800
- Detroit Pistons +900
- Dallas Mavericks +1000
- Orlando Magic +1100