With rumors surfacing of a potential Zach LaVine trade, the Miami Heat would be wise to explore a deal for his Chicago Bulls teammate, Thaddeus Young.
Chicago was listening to trade offers for their top player ahead of this year’s trade deadline, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe. The deadline passed, and alas, the Bulls held onto LaVine.
But just weeks ago, SNY’s Ian Begley noted that both the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks would be monitoring the guard’s availability on the circumstance he requests out of Chicago.
The Miami Heat are looking to market themselves as the next great superstar destination, with eyes on winning their fourth championship in the Riley, Erik Spoelstra era. They’ve been tied to names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bradley Beal, and Victor Oladipo as of recent.
Given their stature in the newest edition of the NBA’s star chase, the Heat will inevitably be tied to every top player that becomes available on the trade or free-agent market.
But I’m here to tell you that LaVine is not their man. However, his teammate and veteran forward Thaddeus Young would make far more sense as a trade target for Riley and company.
No Young is not, and never has been, an All-Star talent. But his efforts on the defensive end would make him an ideal fit within this Heat system and their future aspirations.
He’s averaging 10.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for Chicago this season. Better yet, Young’s posting a 108 Defensive Rating per 100 possessions. Another name doing the very same? Miami’s very own Jimmy Butler.
It’s also worth noting Young is knocking down 35 percent of his shots from deep. This Heat team is a top-10 team in every three-point statistic and would welcome any and all shooters.
Even more appealing to Riley and his master plan, Young is on the books for just $13-million next season, and a non-guaranteed $14-million for the 2021-2022 campaign. Not only would this keep the doors open for a third All-Star, but is an absolute bargain for Young and his services.
LaVine on the other hand is making $19-million over each of the next three seasons. Not that it’s a price most clubs wouldn’t pay, but the Heat haven’t been gracious with their future cap space.
The Bulls’ guard was frustrated when he missed out on this year’s All-Star game after averaging career highs almost all across the board in the lesser Eastern Conference. LaVine posted 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.5 steals over 60 games for Chicago.
While that steals number may seem to draw your eye, it’s often his defense that is the heaviest critique of the sixth year guard. That combined with the number of shots LaVine requires versus his output on the offensive end, makes him a less than ideal fit for this Heat team.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra already has a lot of mouths to feed. Riley’s not going to hand him someone that needs 10-12 shots a game unless it makes them immediate contenders.
There’s also a likelihood factor at play. Whether the Bulls would ever part ways with their starting two-guard is still up in the air, hell, they could very well just let him hit free agency in 2022. But Young is available to deal for, and that’s something that’s known league-wide.
Any lineup combination featuring Butler, Young, and Bam Adebayo would have three guys able to lock down a multitude of positions. The defensive ceiling would be exponentially higher.
The price tag would be considerably less for Young, and the benefit to having him in this Miami locker room would mirror that of veterans they’ve held in years past. So make the call Pat, because this guy seems a perfect fit for Miami and your famous Heat Culture.
The Miami Heat will be weighing out several moves ahead of next season, likely including a potential deal for Zach LaVine. But when it comes to the Chicago Bulls personnel and who’s available, Thaddeus Young may prove a far better fit for South Beach.