1. Miami Heat
2024 first-round pick
2027 first-round pick
2029 first-round pick
2026 first-round pick swap
To pry LaVine from Chicago, the Heat would likely need to send out both Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry, which creates its own salary issues. However, the inclusion of Alex Caruso solves that and will allow the Bulls to ask for a massive return. LaVine may be a household name, but Caruso is a star in his own right. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league and fits Heat Culture like a glove.
The draft pick compensation will be steep, and the Heat will almost certainly have to drop the protections on the pick they owe to the Thunder, but three first-round picks and a swap is fair value for LaVine and Caruso.
The trade won’t vault them over the Celtics in the East, but it should put them on par with the Sixers and Bucks. Jimmy Butler only has so many good years left, and it would be a waste to see them on mediocre teams.
2. Orlando Magic
2024 first-round pick
2025 first-round pick (Top-5 Protected, via DEN)
2027 first-round pick swap
Jonathan Isaac has flashed his impressive defensive chops in limited action this season and would be a nice bet to make for a rebuilding team. His contract isn’t fully guaranteed, so there’s limited downside, but the upside he showed before a series of knee injuries remains. Gary Harris would be an instant candidate for another trade and is an expiring contract, and Jalen Suggs was the fifth overall pick in 2021 and is an excellent defensive guard.
The Magic can send the Bulls significant draft assets as well, and due to the age of their core, they won’t have to worry much about getting burned on the back end. An unprotected pick, the Denver pick, and two swaps should be enough for the Bulls to bite.
The Magic might view this type of deal as being a year too early, but LaVine is under contract for at least another two seasons, and they have everything in place, outside of a guard who can score, to be a real threat.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
Kira Lewis Jr.
2025 first-round pick (via MIL)
2027 first-round pick
2024 first-round pick (via LAL)
C.J. McCollum only has two more seasons left on his deal and is a solid player that should allow the Bulls to avoid bottoming out if that’s the direction they want to take. Kira Lewis is in the trade for salary purposes and is on an expiring contract.
The real prize for the Bulls would be one of the Milwaukee Bucks’ picks and possibly the Lakers’ pick the Pelicans still control. If the Pelicans want to keep all of their own picks, making those three picks available would undoubtedly get the Bulls’ attention, and still leave the Pelicans with plenty of assets to continue building their roster.
4. Brooklyn Nets
2027 first-round pick (via PHX)
2027 first-round pick (via PHI)
2029 first-round pick (via PHX)
A straight swap of Ben Simmons and three unprotected first-round picks for LaVine should be an enticing offer for Chicago. Simmons is viewed as a negative asset, but he makes less than LaVine over this season and the next two. While a bounceback for Simmons is looking increasingly unlikely, he has made an All-NBA team. Taking a flier on him plus three interesting picks from different teams is the exact type of move rebuilding teams should make.
The Nets might not want to move their assets just yet, but if they’re interested in competing while Mikal Bridges is on one of the best deals in the sport, they need to act fast. He only has two more years after this season left on his deal, and once he lands a massive raise, acquiring a player of LaVine’s quality becomes more difficult.
5. New York Knicks
2024 first-round pick (via DAL, Top-10 Protected)
2024 first-round pick (via WAS, Top-12 Protected)
2026 first-round pick (via DET)
Giving up RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson is a lot of current NBA production to give up, but LaVine is a better version of Barrett, and Isiah Hartenstein is one of the league’s most overqualified backups. The Knicks also have a collection of protected first-round picks that they’ve had trouble offloading, but throwing all three at the Bulls should be enough to satisfy them.
Barrett is a young player on a reasonable deal but has failed to live up to his draft pedigree. He has started the season strong, but that’s largely a product of his 50 percent shooting from three. The Knicks may want to see where he lands when regression hits, but there’s a chance he’s the same frustrating player he always has been.
Robinson has been excellent this season and absolutely brutalizes teams on the offensive glass. However, he’s a rim-running, rim-protecting center. While ones of Robinson’s quality aren’t a dime a dozen, they’re one of the easiest player archetypes to replace, and Hartenstein is not a significant downgrade.