There is no friction between Chicago Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine says one team insider. That may be a big part of why the Bulls remain “very confident” that they can re-sign the two-time All-Star in free agency.
LaVine created waves (perhaps inadvertently) when he was spotted in Los Angeles this week. When asked by TMZ about the Lakers, LaVine said he has “always been a big fan”.
Never mind that he lives in L.A. or that he just had arthroscopic surgery that day in town. That one sentence was enough to perk the ears of the Lakers faithful back up for a possible sign-and-trade while getting Bulls fans in a bit of a stir.
However, most theories about LaVine leaving revolve around a false notion that NBC Sports Chicago’s Stacey King disputed in no uncertain terms.
Putting This One to Bed
King appeared on the CHGO_Bulls podcast on May 24 to discuss all things Bulls. Naturally, the subject of LaVine’s free agency came up. As one might expect, King did his best to sell the Bulls as the best option.
According to the elder Ball, LaVine was dissatisfied with playing second-fiddle to DeRozan last season. King vehemently disagreed and cited his proximity to the team.
“I’m around these guys all the time, they all get along. This is a very close-knit group. They get along, they pull for one another…I’m going to put that to rest. There’s no beef going on between Zach and DeMar.”
King called the outlets running with such reports “click-bait” saying they ran with the story with no proof.
“It’s just so funny reading all the intel on the internet. All these people have all this insight and…they know nothing about Chicago Bulls basketball anyway…It’s trash”
He also noted that LaVine wanted to shake off the label of not being a winner, something the guard mentioned when DeRozan was named an All-Star starter.
“I’m the ultimate team guy, I feel like. I’m so happy for my teammates and their success because at the end of the day, I’m going to be Zach LaVine.”
Reality Going Forward
King added another nugget that should further put those rumors to rest. An underreported potential factor in DeRozan’s takeover this season is, in fact, LaVine’s health. Even before dealing with the balky knee, LaVine battled through torn thumb ligaments.
Continuing to battle through injuries and sacrificing his shot at All-NBA by deferring to DeRozan should be viewed as positives in the Bulls’ favor.
King asserts that LaVine is still the Bulls’ future.
“DeMar has made it very clear this is Zach’s team…You’ve got to remember, DeMar DeRozan was one of the elite players in this league before he came to the Bulls…That’s not going to change.”
DeRozan, who earned a second-team All-Pro selection, was effusive in his praise for LaVine when appearing on King’s “Gimme the Hotsauce” podcast. He said that he was “always a fan of Zach” and came to Chicago to help LaVine become a winner.
“That’s my man. He knows I’m riding with him right or wrong.”
LaVine announced DeRozan’s All-Star selection on the team plane in February. He has also said that the only thing that matters to him is winning and also called DeRozan and himself the “best duo in the NBA” in February.
King Holds Court
This one rumor has added fuel to speculation confirmed by NBA correspondent Marc Stein and NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson that LaVine was no longer considered a lock to return to Chicago next season.
Simply put, King’s words could not have come at a better time with so little coming from those involved in the negotiations.
It is still far from a guarantee of LaVine’s return. Just as his recent endorsement deals could have been in the works long before he decided on being open in free agency. But it is better than rampant speculation he is leaving going unchecked.