Chicago Bulls players conducted their exit interviews on April 28 and 29 after the team lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2022 playoffs and one of the best players on the team hinted at a potential departure in the summer.
Zach LaVine, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason for the first time in his career, said he is going to stay “open-eyed” when asked if the Bulls were the leader in the clubhouse to sign him. The two-time All-Star and two-time Slam Dunk champion added that free agency is a “big decision” for him and his family and he intends to “look at everything” available to him.
“It’s a big decision, not just for me, but for my family,” LaVine said. “Obviously, I’m going to take my time and look into everything, talk with my agent. I think it’s an opportunity not a lot of people in my situation actually get to get to and I think it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve been here for the last five years and I’ve really enjoyed my time. I think the city — and I hope everybody — understands how much I care about the Bulls and what I’ve done for the city. I’m going into everything open-minded, but understand that my time here has been great. We’ll see what the future holds.”
LaVine can sign a five-year deal worth around $200 million with the Bulls or a four-year contract worth about $160 million with another team this offseason. He averaged 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season in 67 games while shooting 47.6% from the field, 38.9% from beyond the arc and 85.3% from the free-throw line.
LaVine, who began his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.
LaVine May Not Take Discount to Stay with Bulls
LaVine spoke to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports during All-Star weekend about his summer free agency and the scoring guard didn’t sound like an individual who is interested in taking a pay cut to stay with the Bulls.
“I think we all get what we deserve at the level we play at for our team and around the league. I think I stack up with everybody at that level,” LaVine said. “We’ll let the chips fall. Is the [max] the goal? I don’t know if it’s the goal, but I should be getting what I deserve. I’ll let them tell me what that is and we’ll go from there.”
LaVine was asked during his exit interview about the personal importance of being offered a maximum contract and the Washington native didn’t mince words this time around.
“It’s important to me, but you get paid what you’re valued at,” LaVine said. “I see myself as a top guy in this league and I think I’ve proven that over the last four years and I think that’s what we’re going to negotiate.”
LaVine has averaged 24.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 272 games with the Bulls. He’s enjoyed his time in Chicago, but it appears the 27-year-old will meet with other teams once free agency starts.
LaVine Plans to ‘Enjoy Free Agency’
LaVine told reporters during his exit interview that he plans to “enjoy free agency.” He also said he’s going to let Paul handle all the negotiation discussions.
“I plan to enjoy free agency with what it is as a whole,” LaVine said. “I think you’re going to have to experience A-Z without making any fast decisions. I think that’s something that me and Rich get to go through and experience. … I don’t think I’m going to have to be in negotiations. They’re going to have to talk to Rich. For me, I get to sit back and figure it out from that point.”