Zach LaVine's days with the Chicago Bulls might be numbered, and the Los Angeles Lakers are one obvious potential destination. If the Bulls -- now 4-8 after a 96-94 loss to the Orlando Magic on Wednesday -- decide to blow up their roster, though, LaVine wouldn't necessarily be Los Angeles' top target. Their reported interest in LaVine is "real," but they also have their eyes on DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso, per The Athletic's Jovan Buha.

Before you start constructing fake trades, some caveats:

  • It's not clear that Chicago is headed toward a fire sale, and it's not clear what exactly it is looking for in a LaVine trade. It hasn't signed the 34-year-old DeRozan to an extension, but it just did extend 33-year-old center Nikola Vucevic through the 2025-26 season. The front office could be looking to remain competitive, even after trading LaVine.
  • DeRozan is on a $28.6 million expiring contract, but the Lakers -- or any potential suitor -- must account for the cost of re-signing him in the offseason.
  • If Caruso is made available, expect something of a bidding war. He's underpaid -- $9.5 million this season, $9.9 million next -- and, since he is one of the best defenders in the league and doesn't need the ball, every contender could use him. Low-usage, low-maintenance, high-impact role players are hard to find.
  • Los Angeles is not in a position to make a big trade right now. Most 2023 free agents aren't eligible to be traded until Dec. 15, and the Lakers' D'Angelo Russell, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes are all on that list. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves, meanwhile, can't be traded until Jan. 15. (If a player re-signs with his previous team for more than the minimum, with a raise of at least 20%, then his can't-be-traded window is longer.)

If the Bulls haven't traded LaVine by January, and if they're prepared to pivot to a rebuild, then there could theoretically be a deal to be done with Los Angeles. In a Lakers fan's dream scenario, they'd acquire both DeRozan and Caruso for a package built around Russell, Hachimura and draft capital (i.e. an unprotected 2029 or 2030 first-round pick, plus swaps and second-rounders). That same framework is possible with LaVine in DeRozan's place, but, since LaVine's salary is about $11.5 million more than DeRozan's, it would be more complicated (and likely have to include Vincent's $10.5 million salary). Blockbuster trades are always complicated, though, and, because Los Angeles' is less than $5 million from the hard cap, any trade it makes will be particularly tricky.

All of this is to say: The Lakers should never have let Caruso go in the first place, and, given that they employ a soon-to-be-39-year-old LeBron James, they have to be in win-now mode. It makes sense that they'd be monitoring the Bulls' potential teardown, and it's not like this is the first time they've been linked to DeRozan or LaVine. There is a long road, however, between them having "interest" in these players and actually getting a deal done. And they can't even begin to cross it for some time.