Trying to nip growing concerns outside of the locker room in the bud, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine offered his take on the events that unfolded inside the locker room after their season-opening loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
By all accounts, head coach Billy Donovan attempted to enter the locker room after the disappointing loss. He was turned back as players hashed out their issues.
But LaVine was adamant that the interaction did not qualify as a “players-only meeting”.
“You get your ass kicked on the first day and we’re having conversations from top to bottom,” LaVine said, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports on November 2. “If we don’t want the coaches in there while we are talking, that’s not a team meeting, it’s players talking amongst ourselves. I don’t know if Coach got that misunderstood or not.”
LaVine’s sentiments about that loss echo what he said in the immediate aftermath,
“Wasn’t a great showing from us,” LaVine said, per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic on October 25. “Didn’t shoot the ball well, don’t feel like we played with enough heart. And that’s on us. It’s a terrible way to come out and start the season.”
It is also in line with what Donovan actually said about the situation which he believes was a positive thing, but did indicate were spirited.
Donovan also got into an animated discussion with Nikola Vucevic on the sidelines of the loss to OKC, with the big man noting afterward he was unhappy with how they were playing at the time. The head coach took no issue with that either but the events are similar to events that took place a little further into last season.
Bulls Locker Room Facing More Adversity
Then, the locker room had turned their attention to LaVine. But there were also reports of dissatisfaction with Donovan – who signed an extension before the season unbeknownst to fans – amid multiple team meetings and face-to-face sitdowns between LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
LaVine is in the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract. But he has also been mired in trade rumors and has insisted this group’s time could be up soon.
“I don’t think we’re at a crossroads, you never want to put something out there too early,” LaVine said, per Goodwill. “But you don’t want to put yourself in a hole where you’re fighting back and behind the eight ball. One game isn’t gonna kill your season, but you don’t want that to snowball. Let’s try to nip this in the bud before it gets bad.”
Bulls Have Entertained Zach LaVine Trade Talks
The Bulls have already engaged in trade talks with several teams regarding LaVine. Their asking price has remained high enough to keep him in Chicago. But, if they continue to struggle and the season goes further, interested teams could be more willing to come up to their asking price.
“It’s always rumors. But I always heard where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” LaVine said via NBC Sports Bay Area on August 5. “And, every once in a while, you see a little too much smoke.”