Lakers make trade for Davis without Bulls' help
The NBA's power structure has taken some dramatic turns in the past week.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson suffered serious injuries during the Finals and will miss a significant portion of next season.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers finally completed their quest of adding a second star to join LeBron James. They reached agreement to acquire all-star center Anthony Davis from New Orleans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 pick in Thursday's NBA Draft and two future first-rounders, according to espn.com.
Boston could have arguably made a better offer centered around Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and draft picks. One problem is salary-cap rules prevent the Celtics from completing a trade before July 1. The other problem is Kyrie Irving becomes a free agent that day and Davis can be a free agent in 2020, so a big trade offer would be a risky proposition.
Rumors were rampant that the Bulls might be the third team in a Lakers-Pelicans trade. There was talk they'd get Ball and send away the No. 7 pick, or possibly involve Zach LaVine in a larger deal.
There's been talk of the Bulls having interest in Ball ever since father Lavar Ball suggested in February his son would rather go to Chicago than New Orleans. Ball does some things well, mainly play defense, rebound and carry a high basketball IQ. But there are some red flags.
Last season, Ball shot 41.7 percent from the free-throw line, down from 45.1 percent as a rookie. How does a team survive late in games when the primary ballhandler is a bad free-throw shooter? It's also been well-documented that his 3-point shot needs work, although he did improve from 30.5 percent as a rookie to 32.9 percent last year.
Perhaps most alarming from the Bulls' perspective is Ball played in 52 and 47 games during his first two NBA seasons due to injuries. The last thing the Bulls need is another injury-prone rebuilding piece, but health issues are tough to predict.
If the Bulls get involved with New Orleans somehow, it might be to acquire veteran guard Jrue Holiday. The younger brother of ex-Bull Justin Holiday could be on the trade market if the Pelicans choose to retool with a younger roster built around Zion Williamson.
Holiday, 29, is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 21.2 points and 7.7 assists. He could push the Bulls back toward playoff contention. The downside is he'd bring an expensive contract, worth $105 million over the next four years with the last season a player option. He's been injury-prone himself, missing at least 15 games in five of the last six seasons; and he's not a great 3-point shooter (career .355).
Trading LaVine would be an odd choice. He's 24 and made significant improvement every year. There's obviously room to improve with defense and decision-making, but his offensive numbers from last season (23.7 points, 4.5 assists, .467 field-goal percentage) weren't far from all-star level.
LaVine taking another step forward is probably the Bulls' easiest path to improvement, along with better health. LaVine may never get to the elite level, but giving up on him now doesn't makes sense.
Saturday's trade was just the beginning. The Lakers have the cap space to pursue another free agent such as Charlotte guard Kemba Walker.
Another monumental decision will be made by Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. When he becomes a free agent on July 1, the Southern California native is expected to choose between staying in Toronto or jumping to the L.A. Clippers.
As mentioned here when the season ended, it's important for the Bulls to tread carefully this summer. With limited cap space and no signs of progress yet in the rebuild, making the wrong move would be costly.