Bulls Advised to Issue Zach LaVine an Ultimatum

Getty Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls could find themselves in a precarious situation with Zach LaVine.

The 26-year-old is coming off a career season which saw him make his first All-Star team and land a spot on the Olympic team. He’s also set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season.

He has said he is committed to staying in Chicago, but things can change. The Bulls can offer LaVine a lucrative extension, but that new deal would be far less than what he figures to be eligible for in unrestricted free agency at the end of the upcoming campaign.

That status would open LaVine up to free-agent offers from other teams like the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. If LaVine does not accept the Bulls’ offer to sign an extension, they will be at risk of losing him without compensation. Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale says the Bulls cannot afford to take that risk.

Favale advises the Bulls issue their star an ultimatum. Favale wrote:

Chicago can offer him an extension, but he’s not going to sign it. A 120 percent raise off his current salary for 2022-23 (comes to $23.4 million) falls noticeably short of his projected max ($34.7 million). Renegotiating and extending LaVine’s contract is the Bulls’ best shot at sealing the deal before he hits the open market. It allows them to increase next season‘s salary as part of the new contract, dis-incentivizing him from exploring the open market in 2022. But that immediate uptick must be paid in cap space, so if Chicago plans on maxing him out, it’ll need a hair over $14 million spending power. Carving out that much flexibility comes with collateral damage. The Bulls will need to renounce all of their own free agents, including Lauri Markkanen (restricted), and then trim another few million bucks from the payroll. LaVine can simplify the process by taking a tad below his 2021-22 max ($33.7 million) and then hitting his projected 2022-23 max. Even then, though, Chicago burns flexibility to give him a raise rather than improve the roster around him. That’s not LaVine’s problem. He’s earned max-money consideration now. The Bulls need to lay out every scenario possible and see where he stands. If he doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line, or they don’t want to renegotiate-and-extend him, then this becomes a non-decision. He should be available.

That’s a tough pill to swallow, but is it on point?

Losing LaVine Would Be Horrible

Without question, LaVine is the closest thing to a superstar the Bulls have had since Derrick Rose was in his MVP season more than 10 years ago. Jimmy Butler had some strong seasons, but it didn’t feel the same as this time period with LaVine.

It truly feels as though we’re at the cusp of three or four special seasons in a row from the dynamic scorer and budding leader.

To have him leave–in any way–before the team and city gets to enjoy the fruits of LaVine’s labor would be a real shame.

Losing LaVine Without Compensation Would Be Even Worse

As bad as it would be to see LaVine leave Chicago in a trade, it would be even worse if he left as an unrestricted free agent.

Talents like LaVine don’t come along often. When an organization is fortunate enough to have someone like this under contract, it is incumbent on them to maximize the time.

With no playoff appearances to show for during LaVine’s time in Chicago, if he left without getting any thing back would be a waste.


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