Yet amid the latest round of trade talks surrounding him, which flared up again this week, LaVine took a different approach than he normally does. Instead of shutting them down Wednesday, he dodged the questions.
He didn’t really want to get into it.
"Right now is not the time to really talk about that," LaVine said Wednesday before their 96-94 loss to the Orlando Magic, via ESPN’s Jamal Collier.
"Play the Orlando Magic tonight, try and get a win. If something comes out later on, that will be the time I talk about it.”
Read into that however much you want to, but it is a different approach for the 28-year-old. During training camp earlier this fall, LaVine completely shut down speculation he was the subject of trade talks within the Bulls front office. He told ESPN of those rumors that his “camp isn’t putting them out,” and he was “committed” to the Bulls.
On Tuesday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported teams around the league were “probing” the availability of LaVine, and there “is increased openness from both sides about exploring a trade.” The Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are all reportedly interested in making a deal.
Though it’s unclear how far potential trade talks have progressed, if at all, LaVine insisted he’s not part of that conversation.
"That's why I have representatives like Rich Paul," LaVine said of his agent, via ESPN. "If he speaks on my behalf, that's my agent. That's who I obviously have my camp with. They talk to [general manager] Artūras [Karnišovas] and them. My job is to go out here and play. Simple as that."
LaVine: 'If you're in a winning situation ... things don't come up'
LaVine has averaged 21.9 points and 4.8 rebounds this season headed into Wednesday night. LaVine is in his 10th season in the league, and the second year of a five-year, $215 million deal with the Bulls.
The Bulls haven’t been very good since LaVine came on board, either — especially recently. They’ve been to the playoffs just once since LaVine was traded to the Bulls from the Minnesota Timberwolves ahead of the 2017-18 campaign, and they’ve had just one winning season. They lost in the play-in tournament last season, and were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round of the 2021-22 season.
The team has a solid group around him with DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vučević, but Lonzo Ball is still dealing with a knee injury and will miss at least two full seasons. And after just a 4-7 start this season, it’s easy to see why LaVine is “frustrated.” They’re still not winning.
"I think if you're not frustrated, that's a problem,” he said via ESPN. “It's an upsetting thing when we've been trying to do the right thing for the last three or four years. It seems like we're in the same place. We're trying to get over that hump."
Regardless of how real these latest trade rumors are surrounding him, LaVine knows there’s one thing that will truly quiet them. For now, at least outwardly, that’s what he’s focused on.
“If you're in a winning situation, a lot of rumors and trade things don't come up,” he said. “Obviously, we want to get a win tonight and get things back on track."
That, however, didn't happen.
The Bulls struggled at the United Center on Wednesday, especially in the first half. They entered the half down 50-33 after shooting just 26% from the field. They had more turnovers in the first 20 minutes than made field goals, and shot less than 15% from behind the arc while managing just 12 points in the second quarter.
Though they rallied back in the second half and LaVine tied the game up with a 3-pointer with just seven seconds left, Paolo Banchero hit a game-winning bucket from the middle of the paint to seal the two-point win for the Magic.
PAOLO BANCHERO GAME-WINNER 🥶
MAGIC WIN IN CHICAGO. pic.twitter.com/s3zZzSQ2xL
— NBA (@NBA) November 16, 2023
Banchero led the Magic with 17 points and nine rebounds, but shot just 4-of-12 from the field. Cole Anthony added 16 points off the bench, and Goga Bitadze finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Magic's win moved them to 6-5 on the season.
LaVine finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Vučević added 17 points and nine rebounds, and Alex Caruso finished with 16 points off the bench. Though DeRozan was out for personal reasons, and they minimized the damage down the stretch, the loss was still a rough one. LaVine and the Bulls will get another shot at the Magic on Friday night.