Bradley Beal has long been viewed as the apple of the Boston Celtics‘ eye. However, if for whatever reason the appeal of donning the green and white alongside his BFF Jayson Tatum isn’t enough to lure the reigning second-leading scorer in basketball to Beantown, where would the Celtics go from there?
According to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, it could be to Chicago, where Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine is entering a contract year and likely headed for a massive payday next summer.
“LaVine changed representation recently and signed with Klutch Sports, which is usually the move for players who want to maximize their free-agent potential,” noted Washburn. “LaVine, 26, just coming off helping Team USA to the gold medal, will ask for a maximum contract in the open market. The Olympic experience may have enhanced LaVine’s value because he was asked to be a three-and-D player, sparking the Americans with his full-court defense and ability to run the floor. In the case that Bradley Beal decides to stay in Washington, LaVine could be the Celtics’ No. 1 target.”
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LaVine on Not Receiving Bulls Extension: ‘It’s Business’
Instead of extending their star wing this offseason, Chicago prioritized adding pieces around him. The team acquired guard Lonzo Ball and forward Demar DeRozan in two separate sign-and-trade deals over the summer. The moves come mere months after the Bulls acquired All-Star center Nikola Vucevic in a trade with the Orlando Magic at last year’s deadline.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill, LaVine was asked about the organization’s decision to “replenish the roster” over extending him.
“It’s business,” LaVine proclaimed. “At the end of the day, I have my own things I want to go after. I have a lot of different motivations in my life that I try to use on the court. But I’m focused on, obviously this next upcoming year and seeing how good I can help this team win. And obviously keep developing myself and getting better as a player.”
At the end of the clip, Goodwill jabs LaVine for giving him the “politically correct answer,” adding “I can see that chip on your shoulder.”
LaVine response? “It grows every year.”
LaVine Would Come Cheaper Than Beal
LaVine, 26, will be entering his eighth NBA season in 2021-22. The UCLA product is coming off his most prolific, well-rounded campaign to date, notching career highs in points (27.4), field-goal percentage (50.7%), 3-point percentage (41.9%), rebounds (5.0) and assists (4.9). His play earned him his first All-Star selection and a spot on the gold medal-winning Team USA basketball team at the Tokyo Olympics.
As highlighted by Celtics Wire’s Justin Quinn, the younger LaVine would come cheaper than the 28-year-old Beal, who would be eligible for a larger max deal as a would-be 10-year veteran next summer.
“Lavine will have eight years total experience by next offseason, commanding a potential $33.7 million max salary — about $6 million less than Beal — that makes a free agency pursuit just within the realm of plausible,” wrote Quinn. “Whether via an outright signing requiring moving players to open up space in advance or via a sign-and-trade that would hard cap the team, such a move would transform Boston’s roster if such a move did come to fruition.”