2. Zach LaVine
Over the course of the last 15 or so years, many relationships between NBA players have started with USA Basketball. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, for example, forged a friendship on the 2008 Olympic Team before linking up with the Miami Heat.
Lillard and LaVine were both key cogs of the team that won the Gold Medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (so was Jerami Grant before the Blazers acquired him). Dame praised the current Bulls star for the selflessness he displayed that summer.
“…Zach was just like, ‘Whatever I gotta do, that’s what I’ll do. If I gotta pick up fullcourt, be a playmaker, be a spot-up shooter, I’m good.’ He literally said that.
“It was fun to see a player of his type of ability embrace that role. Because he was so good at it. You don’t have the responsibility of scoring and doing all these things, so he was flying around defensively, catching lobs, blocking shots, hitting open 3s.”
The Bulls are on track to at least contemplate a rebuild this summer, and if Portland wants to unlock future first-round picks to include in trades, it will have to work with Chicago to remove the protections placed on a lottery selection currently owed to the Bulls anyway.
LaVine has a history of knee injuries, a large contract, and wouldn’t do much to fix the Blazers defensive issues, but he’s averaged more than 24 points per game each of the last four seasons and is a career 38.4 percent 3-point shooter.