By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
Although the NBA has still not decided on what to do with the rest of this season does not mean it’s too early to look into the offseason. Whether this Sixers’ core gets the chance to show what they can do in the postseason or not, the roster could use some tweaking.
The Al Horford experiment did not pan out the way that the team had hoped, so finding a suitable trade partner for him and his large contract should be at the top of the offseason to-do list.
One name that has been thrown around for the Sixers to target is Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, but I would like to throw another name out there. That is Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine.
The Bulls have not been able to break out of the bottom tier of the NBA and could potentially look to move on from their star. Chicago has only won 22 games each of the last two seasons and might be looking to move forward and build around young point guard Colby White, who showed a lot of promise leading up to the suspension of the season.
LaVine had a career year with the Bulls this season and was arguably a snub for the All-Star game. He averaged 25.5 PPG (career-high), 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, and 1.5 SPG. On top of that, he also shot 38% from deep on a career-high 8.1 attempts a game.
His fit on the Sixers would be almost seamless. LaVine is the kind of player that compliments both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and at 6’6 he fits the big defensive identity that this team is looking to build.
Pairing Zach LaVine with Ben Simmons is something that puts fans in seats. The two would easily be the most athletic backcourt in the NBA, along with one of the best defensive ones as the two combined for close to four steals a game this season. Seeing Simmons and LaVine throw down together in the open court would be an awesome sight to see.
LaVine is also the perfect kind of guard to put around Joel Embiid. He is a guy that could catch and shoot when defenses collapse on Embiid in the paint and is a guy that could come off screens around the arc and knock down shots when needed.
We saw in the past how well the Embiid/Redick dribble hand-off worked for the Sixers in the past. That is a play they could recreate with LaVine who would also have the ability to attack the rim.
There is a little bit of risk when bringing in LaVine. Although he has recovered nicely from it, there is no forgetting that he is just three years removed from tearing his ACL as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The injury has not seemed to affect him much since returning but a scary injury like that is something that will always loom over a player.
Some external things that also make LaVine a good fit for the Sixers is his age and his contract. He is signed through the 2021-2022 season so he would be around while this team feels its championship window is open. Not to mention at 25 years old that LaVine is in the perfect age gap with Embiid, Simmons, and Tobias Harris.
The final reason why the Sixers should call about the young star, LaVine indirectly brought up wanting to play with a team like the Sixers earlier this year.
Remember over All-Star weekend when Zach LaVine said he wanted to play with a “point guard who can get up and down the floor” along with a “dominant big man”— Kevin McCormick (@KevinMcCSports) April 29, 2020
Don’t forget Elton Brand has a new friend in the Bulls’ front office now. pic.twitter.com/N1Mf5khDaY
During All-Star weekend LaVine was a guest on ESPN’s First Take as the representative of the hosting city Chicago. They started off talking about LaVine’s past dunk contest performances and his decision to compete in the three point contest this year, then things got interesting.
Max Kellerman went on to ask LaVine about what players he would want to play with and then what kind of players he wants to play with. He then went on to drop two interesting quotes.
LaVine went on to say that he wants to play with a “point guard you can get up and down the floor and pass the ball” and then went on to say “playing with a dominant big man is great too.”
Based on those quotes it seems like LaVine would love the idea of playing in Philadelphia. He basically came out and said that he wants to play with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Trading for a guy like Zach LaVine is going to be no small task. Chicago is going to have a steep price for their star player. But making the call to see what it would take to add a guy like him could completely shift the direction of the franchise for the foreseeable future.