Cavaliers will be watching LaVine trade market very closely

Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls. Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images
Alex Caruso and Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls. Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to trade for Zach LaVine.

That may seem like a statement so obvious that it could remain unsaid, but it can also be a potential pitfall for fans of the Cavaliers. Just because a team isn’t going to trade for a star who finds his way onto the trade market doesn’t mean the situation isn’t important.

Zach LaVine and the Chicago Bulls have reportedly agreed to begin seeing other people. That is, both the Bulls and the All-Star guard are open to trade discussions that would send LaVine to another team. That’s hardly a surprise given the Bulls’ 5-10 start and anemic offense; for all of his athleticism and shooting LaVine hasn’t been able to generate an above-average offense in Chicago.

Why a Zach LaVine trade matter for the Cavaliers

The Cavaliers are not going to trade for LaVine. He is too much of a defensive liability to be their solution on the wing, and he doesn’t fit well with Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. There’s not a realistic scenario where LaVine ends up on the Cavaliers.

The Cavs and their front office will certainly be watching the trade market very closely. This is a front office that has benefited multiple times in recent years from staying connected to a trade discussion.

In January of 2021, the Cavaliers were not serious contenders for James Harden; they had two young guards in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, and were at the height of their rebuild (seven months later they would draft Evan Mobley). Yet by staying connected to the situation they were able to step in and land Jarrett Allen.

In the summer of 2022, the Cavaliers weren’t going to trade for Rudy Gobert. They did, however, ultimately trade Utah for Donovan Mitchell, a deal with multiple tendrils leading back to the Gobert deal, from the cost set by the Gobert deal to Utah’s willingness to trade for certain players having already made the Gobert trade.

It’s a similar scenario now with Zach LaVine hitting the trade market. The Cavaliers are almost certainly not going to trade for the guard, but what happens with any potential LaVine trade has shockwaves that do and will matter to Cleveland.

James Harden’s most recent trade to the LA Clippers signaled little about the current trade market, as there was only ever one or two teams with any interest in dealing for him. LaVine is different; a case can be made for any of a dozen teams being realistic trade partners with Chicago, from all-in contenders to up-and-coming squads in need of backcourt upgrades.

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The same teams interested in LaVine now are almost certainly the same teams that will be interested in Donovan Mitchell were he to come on the trade market next summer. Mitchell has hit higher heights than LaVine and would probably fetch more in a trade and have more teams interested, but what a team trades for LaVine will be a starting point in the Mitchell trade negotiations.

Additionally, the team that trades for LaVine is essentially taking itself out of the Mitchell sweepstakes. That could be a positive for Cleveland in convincing Mitchell to stay (if his top destination is off the market) or a negative in removing one potential suitor from a bidding war.

There are also several Eastern Conference rivals in that group of teams that could trade for Zach LaVine. Cleveland’s chances of competing this postseason could be greatly affected by whether or not the Miami Heat or Philadelphia 76ers or New York Knicks or even the Orlando Magic have a new All-Star guard.

There will also be shockwaves through the Chicago Bulls organization as well. Does a LaVine trade open up the rest of the roster for transactions? Can the Cavs benefit from swooping in and adding Jevon Carter or Torrey Craig? Should they entertain the possibility of a DeMar DeRozan deal? The answers to these questions will rely on what happens with Zach LaVine.

It’s not clear when LaVine will be traded, and all of these shockwaves may have minimal effect on the Cavaliers. It’s also possible that the teams in the mix for LaVine show their hand and set the Cavs up for a successful resolution to the Mitchell situation this summer.

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Zach LaVine is a talented player, and he will likely get a chance to display that talent in a new hometown by the Trade Deadline. How that trade goes down will mean a lot to the Cavaliers.