Zach LaVine

Why Reynolds believes Kings trading for LaVine makes sense

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The Kings must roll out a retooled roster for the 2024-25 NBA season, and they’ll presumably be active buyers in the trade market over the offseason.

One player to keep an eye on as rumors intensify is one who previously tried to join Sacramento a few summers ago: Chicago Bulls wing Zach LaVine.

LaVine, 29, recently has struggled to stay on the court. However, former Kings head coach Jerry Reynolds believes the big-time scorer poses a risk worth taking, detailing a potential Sacramento-LaVine union on SacTown Sports’ "The Drive Guys" with Kevin Gleason last Wednesday.

“Well, yeah, you've got to kind of try to be creative as you can,” Reynolds told Gleason. “I mean, the Kings don't have a lot of ways of improving, so there's probably going to have to be some risks. The biggest risk with Zach besides health is [his] contract. And so you couldn't possibly get into that unless you could, you know, basically make it work contractually. And of course, which means getting rid of contracts.

“You're losing depth, but maybe gaining star power.”

Represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, LaVine is set to make roughly $43 million next season, per Spotrac, adding to his career earnings of $164 million.

While playing only 25 games due to season-ending surgery on his right foot, LaVine still enters the 2024-25 campaign as a two-time NBA All-Star who has averaged 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 580 games over his 10-year NBA career. An elite finisher and 3-point shooter (38.2 percent), LaVine is one of the game’s most versatile scorers.

As Reynolds noted, LaVine will have a steep price tag -- requiring depth. But if swapping out role players -- or the No. 13th overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft for a star is necessary for Sacramento to emerge into NBA championship contention, then the Kings must find a way to get it done.

“Well, three [players] would do it,” Reynolds suggested. “Definitely three could do it. maybe even two. You know, I'm not at all sure that [Kevin] Huerter and [Harrison] Barnes wouldn't do it. I mean, you might have to add something there… No, I wouldn't give up a first-round pick.

“But I mean, that's the risk: the money. But I always say: in a trade, if you come out of it and the money's the same and the length is pretty much the same, which it would be, who's getting the best player? Well, if he's healthy and you expect him to be healthy for a while, you're getting the most talented player.”

LaVine has long been linked to the Kings.

Notably, he agreed to a fully guaranteed four-year, nearly $80 million offer sheet from Sacramento during the 2018 offseason -- but Chicago quickly ended that potential partnership. 

But LaVine’s interest in the Kings has prevailed over the years. Per The Athletic’s Sam Amick in December, “LaVine would be very amenable to a Sacramento move that would make him [De’Aaron] Fox’s backcourt mate.”

A Kings core of Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Keegan Murray -- who Reynolds is adamant about excluding from trade talks -- and LaVine would be formidable in the NBA’s young, star-driven Western Conference. 

And Sacramento, who ended its 16-year NBA playoff drought two seasons ago, is pursuing more than postseason appearances. Plus, the Kings took a step backward this season by being eliminated by the Zion Williamson-less New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Play-In Tournament -- vast improvement and star power is necessary.

“You've got a quality coach [Mike Brown], you've got some established stars, guys,” Reynolds added. [With] Fox and Sabonis, [LaVine would] have to know he's got to fit in. And he's on record as stating that he would like to come here.

“He's a California guy. And that has been an issue in the past for some guys with the Kings and things have changed now, but for him to come out and say, ‘Yeah, I'd like to be there.’ That's good.”

LaVine, a former UCLA Bruin, routinely is mentioned in trade rumors surrounding the California teams. His particular attraction to Sacramento should intrigue the Kings' front office.

Whether he becomes a King or not, LaVine likely won’t be with the Bulls next season. Due to the team’s stalemate records and finishes and the emergence of young star Coby White, Chicago could look to move on from the high-flying No. 8.

Sacramento potentially could land LaVine for a good price from a Chicago squad eager to shed salary as it builds toward the future. Reynolds sure hopes that’s the case.

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