‘All Signs Point’ to Decision on Bulls Star Zach LaVine’s Contract: Report

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 and DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls celebrate

A lot has been made of what the Chicago Bulls will do this offseason. But one insider believes they have already made what is easily their most important decision of the summer: whether or not to extend a max contract offer to star free agent, Zach LaVine.

LaVine’s free agency has been the elephant in the room since before last season. The rumor mill has been in high gear since the season’s end.

There is a new potential destination seemingly every day.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, any decision over whether or not the two-time All-Star will be in Chicago next season will depend on the player. The organization is ready to commit.

Showing LaVine Respect

There is something to be said for this coming from Cowley, who has covered the team since the Derrick Rose days. He has seen the organization fumble Rose’s situation as well as prematurely move off of Jimmy Butler to avoid paying him.

Butler just dropped a career-high 47 points for the Miami Heat to force a Game 7 versus the Boston Celtics.

However, trading Butler did bring LaVine to Chicago. It makes even more sense for the Bulls to do what they can to keep him, and it sounds as though they will.

All signs point towards the Bulls and LaVine getting a deal done to make him a max player the next five years

Surely that got Bulls fans excited for five more years of this.

If that open was not enough to get Bulls fans excited, Cowley goes a little more in-depth and makes clear who the onus would be on to ensure LaVine is in Chicago for many more years to come.

All indications from the offices of the Advocate Center are that the Bulls will…take that leap of faith. It will be up to LaVine to decide whether the feeling is mutual or whether he rather would move on.

LaVine averaged 24.4 points on 60.5% true shooting while connecting on 38.9% of his triples despite battling through torn thumb ligaments and a knee injury that required offseason surgery.

It makes perfect sense for the Bulls, who have gone to great lengths to repair their image around the league, to reward that kind of performance and commitment to the team. But it was not presumed to be as much of a given just a week ago.

Smoke and Mirrors

NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported from the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago that sentiments around the league were less certain the Bulls would offer LaVine the max.

There is speculation from rival executives whether or not the Bulls will extend LaVine the full maximum contract of five years and roughly $212 million. The public stances of Reinsdorf and Karnišovas suggest otherwise.

Count this latest from Cowley, who Blog-A-Bull says is close with team president Michael Reinsdorf, as more proof of the latter.

Karnisovas made clear in his exit interview that his hopes were for a long-term deal to get done between the two sides. He cited the relationship the new regime has built with LaVine over the last two seasons. A relationship the Bulls’ previous leadership had strained.

Cowley cites LaVine’s exit interview as a reminder the extra effort to secure the deal with the Bulls rubbed the 2016 Slam Dunk champion the wrong way. LaVine said he felt he had outperformed his expired four-year, $78 million deal.

A deal he only got after signing an offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings in 2018 which did not sit well with the star.

“I’m disappointed that I had to get an offer sheet from another team…But Sacramento stepped up and made a strong impression. It appears that Sacramento wants me more than Chicago.”

When asked in his exit interview this year if he wanted the max this time around because of the discount of his last contract, LaVine replied “You said that, I didn’t”.

He has, however, told reporters that he wants his respect out of this new pact.

Much Ado on What to Do

The former 13th-overall pick then went out and helped Team USA win Olympic gold. He averaged 19.3 points on 55.3% true shooting and hit 37.5% of his threes with a pair of double-doubles in his first playoff series.

Heavy’s Sean Deveney reported that executives believe much of the smoke surrounding his potential exit came from his representatives to secure the max offer from the Bulls this summer.

If this latest report from Cowley is accurate, then perhaps we should consider this a mission accomplished for Rich Paul and Klutch Sports.

As long as the result is LaVine in a Bulls uniform for the foreseeable future, this will all be much ado about nothing. It will also be mission accomplished for Karnisovas who can then turn his attention to improving the rest of the roster on the margins.

Cowley sums up where we are in the process in his close saying, “Your move, Zach.”

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