With one week until NBA teams hold their annual media days and open training camp, Damian Lillard’s future remains a major focal point.
The Chicago Bulls have been loosely linked to the Portland Trail Blazers’ icon for months, with NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Insider K.C. Johnson reporting in July that the teams held preliminary talks that gained little traction. Last week, PHLY_Sports had a podcast on which one of its participants said the Bulls “might be trying to move LaVine as part of a multi-team deal just to see if they can get into the Lillard sweepstakes.”
But on last week’s Bulls Talk Podcast, Johnson said most executives he had spoken to around the league pointed to the Toronto Raptors as a more likely landing sport if a deal is consummated before camp.
On Monday, Andscape and ESPN Senior NBA Writer Marc Spears echoed that stance, while adding that “the Chicago thing is kinda waning a little bit.”
Lillard’s preference all along has been to be traded to the Miami Heat. But multiple reports have indicated that the Trail Blazers have had little to no communication with the franchise since July. Instead, Portland has talked to other teams, including the Bulls, as they ponder the franchise’s next move in advance of a rebuild centered around rookie Scoot Henderson and other intriguing young talent.
While a mere phone call can change courses quickly in this type of landscape, the Bulls are preparing for training camp as if their roster is set after adding Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency and re-signing free agents Nikola Vucevic, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu. The Bulls have heavily featured LaVine on their social media account of late, which featured a team-bonding trip to Guaranteed Rate Field for a softball game.
LaVine has landed in trade rumors consistently throughout his Bulls’ tenure, and Johnson has reported on the growing skepticism within the league that he will finish his five-year deal in Chicago. But for now, it’s more likely than not that LaVine will return for a widely anticipated 2023-24 season.
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