With Bulls' roster shakeup underway, is Zach LaVine the next piece on the move?

Wednesday brought a four-year max-contract for Pascal Siakam and Indiana. Thursday brought Chicago and Oklahoma City swapping Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey. The NBA offseason is officially underway, and there’s plenty of trade activity still to come ahead of the NBA Draft on Wednesday and Thursday and the ensuing start of free agency.

The Bulls had been communicating with rival teams a desire to reshape their roster, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and Artūras Karnišovas’ front office indeed struck a deal that brings the first player back to Chicago via trade in three years. Word of the Bulls’ interest in Giddey had filtered to opposing front offices throughout this past week. Although many executives from opposing teams believed that was a potential construct for a Patrick Williams sign-and-trade — the fourth-year forward is set to reach restricted free agency June 30, with OKC, Toronto and Charlotte already being mentioned by league personnel as possible landing spots for Williams outside of Chicago.

Alas, the deal resulted in a direct flip of Giddey for Caruso, a 30-year-old 3-and-D guard who’s on an expiring $9.9 million contract and will become eligible for a four-year, roughly $80 million extension six months after the completion of this trade. OKC has made its first true win-now move that rival teams have been anticipating for some time, swapping one of the Thunder’s prized lottery picks for a veteran who fits perfectly within OKC’s five-out scheme. Many league observers quickly compared this acquisition to that of Boston landing Derrick White — a key building block toward the Celtics’ championship.

FILE - Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso gestures after making a 3-point shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, March 31, 2024, in Minneapolis. Josh Giddey has been traded from Oklahoma City to Chicago for Caruso, a person familiar with the situation said. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, file)
It's fair to say the Bulls may not have maximized their return for Alex Caruso. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr, file)

The Bulls are making a significant investment in Giddey, not just for the payday their new 21-year-old playmaker will likely command after his rookie deal expires following the 2024-25 season, but in regard to the Caruso offers Chicago dismissed during previous transaction cycles. The Bulls engaged several teams over the past 18 months that were willing to sacrifice first-round draft capital for Caruso, sources said, while Chicago characteristically pushed for unprotected picks and as many as four firsts in some of those conversations. Chicago also refused to include Caruso in deals that would have offloaded Zach LaVine, sources said.

The Bulls are clearly high on Giddey. He’s been incredibly durable, compared to Caruso’s own injury history, not to mention Lonzo Ball’s years-long absence from the court. There’s certainly an argument to be made that a three-year veteran who started for the top seed in the Western Conference still harbors untapped potential and eventually could be worth the draft ammunition the Bulls spurned in Caruso offers. That answer, of course, won’t be known for several seasons, which is much further in the future than Chicago’s impending decision on Giddey by this time next summer, at the latest.

Chicago continues to project a willingness to shuffle its deck, exploring its options to move up in the draft, sources said, and engaging rival teams on LaVine trade scenarios. The Bulls have attempted to find a new home for LaVine since last offseason, according to league sources, but have yet to develop signification traction on deals outside of talks with Detroit that once included Bojan Bogdanović — who’s since been traded to New York — and the Pistons are now under new leadership with president Trajan Langdon.

There isn’t much more room for purported roster shakeups outside of dealing LaVine if Chicago is as intent on keeping Williams and veteran scorer DeMar DeRozan as the Bulls have so far projected, sources said.

LaVine remains merely a backup option for the Sixers, sources said, but not a player whom Philadelphia truly covets with the team’s ocean of cap space. If there’s any suitor for LaVine that seems most likely at this juncture, it would be the Kings. Sacramento remains active in exploring trade opportunities for Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter, league sources told Yahoo Sports, with Huerter receiving a healthy amount of external interest. The Kings, at this juncture, are still considering trade possibilities for their No. 13 overall pick in Wednesday’s draft as well, sources said, with combo guard Malik Monk, a top Sixth Man of the Year candidate, agreeing to stay with Sacramento and his close friend, All-Star point guard De’Aaron Fox.

Monk, along with Golden State’s Klay Thompson, had both been widely rumored as targets for Orlando, with the Magic holding roughly $36 million in cap room. Orlando, sources said, indeed holds intentions of pursuing a veteran guard/wing who can space the floor around Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, without commanding too much on-ball oxygen. Orlando appears to have an appetite to only offer a short-term deal, similar to the two-year, above-market contract the Magic awarded Joe Ingles a season ago. Orlando could very well exercise the 2024-25 option on Ingles’ deal, sources said, depending on how much room the Magic will need to operate through its overall offseason — with the knowledge that Jalen Suggs is in line for a significant payday before his fourth season in Orlando. How Suggs’ deal compares to Immanuel Quickley’s likely upcoming new agreement with Toronto — and what type of benchmark that could set for Giddey — will all shape another interesting corner of the NBA marketplace.

With that said, let’s say the Magic prove to be open to something similar to Bruce Brown’s contract last summer, when the Pacers inked the former Nuggets swingman to a two-year, $45 million deal, the second season being a team option. That number would be below what Thompson declined from Golden State prior to the 2023-24 campaign, sources said, and would not come close to the four years and $78 million Sacramento plans to give Monk. Thompson is also believed by league sources to want a deal of at least three seasons. Therefore, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would seem, at present, to be the veteran in line to benefit from the Magic’s cap space. Caldwell-Pope is also believed to have a potential home in Chicago, should the Bulls ultimately lose out on Williams, in addition to Philadelphia viewing the veteran wing as a backup option.

The Thunder were once considered a possible purveyor of another short-term balloon payment, with Isaiah Hartenstein frequently labeled by league personnel as a potential recipient. The Caruso deal doesn’t entirely eliminate that possibility, although multiple figures with knowledge of OKC’s thinking indicated the Thunder are far more likely to pursue a situational reserve big man to support Chet Holmgren in the frontcourt, as opposed to dramatically shifting the effective five-out style of the Thunder’s overall offense.

Hartenstein, at this moment, is now generally expected to return to New York, as the Knicks have contacted opposing teams about moving Mitchell Robinson, sources said. There appears to be a wide range of starting-caliber big men available for trade. League personnel told Yahoo Sports the Bucks are open to reshaping their roster, and they are gauging the trade value for Brook Lopez. Houston, sources said, cautioned Lopez that re-signing with Milwaukee could very well lead to him eventually being traded when the Rockets pursued Lopez in free agency a year ago. Atlanta, sources said, continues to pursue deals for veteran center Clint Capela, who’s entering the final year of a contract that still owes the 30-year-old rim protector $22 million. Rival teams believe Utah is willing to engage in trade talks that would part ways with Jazz second-year center Walker Kessler. And the Detroit Pistons are evaluating the market for Isaiah Stewart, according to league sources.

League executives view both Detroit and Charlotte as clear trade partners to absorb unwanted salary in exchange for future assets and draft capital. The Pistons are expected to use some portion of their $50-plus million in room to find a new agreement with trade deadline acquisition Simone Fontecchio, sources said. Yet for the league’s worst team, which recently dismissed head coach Monty Williams after previously parting ways with general manager Troy Weaver, Detroit could surely stand to add to its war chest as opposed to overpaying for veteran talent that would marginally improve the Pistons.

Charlotte already conducted its business at February’s trade deadline as a clear rebuilding seller. The Hornets have the impending free agency of forward Miles Bridges to sort through now. And while Bridges could command upward of $30 million, sources said, the Hornets are also believed to be open to parting with Bridges by way of sign-and-trade, should a productive opportunity present itself. Charlotte, sources said, held conversations with Brooklyn about swapping Bridges in a package that would have brought Ben Simmons to the Hornets in February. Sacramento was another team that inquired about Bridges at the deadline, sources said.

Detroit and Charlotte hold the Nos. 5 and 6 picks, respectively, in next week’s draft, but only the Hornets have been characterized by league personnel as a legitimate possibility to move up in the draft. Houston at No. 3 could be more interested in moving its selection than keeping it. The Rockets, sources said, plan to entertain offers for the third pick, which could last all the way until Houston is on the clock Wednesday. The Rockets, sources said, are more intrigued by receiving future draft capital than any player who’s been made available to Houston at this point. Should the Rockets ultimately hold pat at this slot, unmotivated by external offers, Houston has been strongly linked by league personnel to Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, who’s considered one of Charlotte’s top priorities at No. 6.

Atlanta will listen at No. 1, but the Hawks appear intent on holding firm, sources said, while the front office finalizes which prospect to select at the top of a draft class that’s full of question marks. At this point, most team personnel picking in the slots behind Atlanta believe the Hawks will ultimately choose between French wing Zaccharie Risacher and UConn center Donovan Clingan.

The Wizards are likely to remain at No. 2 as well, where Washington has the league convinced its focused on selecting Alex Sarr from the Perth Wildcats. The Wizards, according to people familiar with the situation, invested the most time and resources of any NBA club sending various personnel to Australia to evaluate Sarr. This situation is also considered the preferred outcome from Sarr’s camp, as it’s become well known that Sarr has so far declined to work out for Atlanta. Washington does also hold the No. 26 pick and is a prime candidate to potentially move up from that slot, sources said, in addition to the Wizards trying to find a third first-round choice.

Portland, holding the No. 7 pick, has indeed called Houston about trading up for No. 3 overall, sources said.

San Antonio has also made the No. 8 pick available, sources said, while Memphis, holding No. 9, remains a team to watch for a potential trade up, as the Grizzlies are known to be searching for frontcourt improvements and have an eye for Clingan, sources said. Portland is also said to be high on Clingan. The Grizzlies have a recurring recent history of moving up in drafts. Memphis, however, is also believed to be open to moving back, depending on how the board ultimately unfolds on draft night, according to league sources. The Grizzlies, sources said, have no interest in parting with Marcus Smart. Memphis has received strong interest from rival teams about Luke Kennard, sources said, in advance of the Grizzlies’ decision on his $14.7 million team option for 2024-25.

Further along the first round, NBA personnel also consider Phoenix a strong candidate to trade down from the No. 22 pick. The Suns are famously low on additional draft capital and future assets after splurging to acquire Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. If Phoenix can find avenues to move down in the first round, while picking up additional second-round picks, the Suns could wisely find more future ammo to make trades down the line, while also adding several rookie salaries onto a very expensive roster, which would prove quite prudent considering Phoenix’s lofty payroll and incoming luxury tax bill.