Chicago Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason for the first time in his career. The two-time All-Star was a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018 and signed a four-year, $78 million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings, a deal the Bulls matched.
During All-Star weekend in Cleveland, LaVine told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports that this summer is going to be a big milestone for him since he could be in line for a max contract.
“Free agency is gonna be a big milestone for me,” LaVine told Yahoo Sports. “It’s my first time going into it really being [an] unrestricted free agent. I dealt with it being restricted before so it’s a whole new experience. I’m excited for the season with the Bulls. But you know, moving forward, it’s gonna be a whole new experience for me.”
According to Goodwill, LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal around $200 million if he re-signs with the Bulls. That dollar amount could be higher if he makes an All-NBA team this season and the two-time Slam Dunk champion — who has completely recovered from the ACL tear he suffered during the 2016-17 season — didn’t mince words in his conversation with Goodwill about what he’s looking for in free agency.
LaVine: ‘I Should Be Getting What I Deserve’
It doesn’t sound like LaVine is interested in taking a pay cut to stay with the Bulls. The Washington native, who is averaging 24.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season, told Goodwill that he “should be getting what I deserve.”
“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 is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. If the Bulls don’t offer the high-flier a contract he likes, don’t be surprised if LaVine takes a meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have two Klutch Sports clients in LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The Bulls’ old front office of Gar Forman and John Paxson almost lost LaVine in 2018 by letting the UCLA product meet with the Kings and sign an offer sheet. While Chicago wound up matching Sacramento’s offer sheet, LaVine’s restricted free agency experience still sticks with him.
LaVine: ‘I Remember Everything Now’
LaVine told Goodwill that he remembers everything that transpired during his restricted free agency in 2018. Even though the Bulls are led by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley now, LaVine continues to have a chip on his shoulder since he never forgets the past.
“I remember everything now,” LaVine said. “I know it’s a different front office, a different time. But I’m gonna take it day by day and let my agent handle it. But I remember everything. It’s something — I always have a chip on my shoulder for multiple reasons.”
It will be fascinating to see what kind of deal LaVine signs this offseason. If he puts up superstar numbers in the 2022 playoffs, the Bulls will have to offer him a max contract.