The Chicago Bulls’ offseason has been underway for a few weeks after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks. Ever since their season ended there have been rumors circulating that the team will lose All-Star Zach LaVine in free agency.
The Bulls can offer LaVine the most money in free agency at five years $212.3 million. Meanwhile, other teams can offer him a four-year deal worth up to $157 million. However, LaVine could ask for the Bulls to agree to a sign and trade so that he could still get the max contract.
Bulls Still the Favorites
LaVine’s name has come up in rumors over the last few weeks with multiple teams being named as possible landing spots for the All-Star. The Spurs, Lakers, Blazers, Mavericks, and Hawks have all been named as teams that could potentially lure LaVine away in free agency.
However, a league source recently told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the Bulls are still the favorites to sign LaVine.
“Business as usual,” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “The Bulls can give him more money. They can give him a chance to go to the playoffs every year. If he is not the No. 1 option, he is 1A and that is going to be the case in just about any place he goes if he is serious about leaving. Portland is out there as a possibility for him, and if he leaves, that is the only place where it would make any sense. But would he shoot more than Damian Lillard there? Of course not. It’s a lateral move or even a step down a bit.”
The GM is certainly right about this as it pertains to the Blazers. If LaVine were to sign in Portland he would be the number two to Damian Lillard, which is a step back from his current role with the Bulls.
Another source told Deveney that Klutch Sports is to blame for the rumors surrounding LaVine.
“A lot of this is coming from the agents, where they want to not only get him paid but raise his profile at the same time,” one league source told Heavy.com. “That is their M.O. The more drama in the process, the better. No one was talking about Zach. Now everyone is. Mission accomplished.”
Time Will Tell
The Bulls will have to deal with rumors about LaVine for a little over another month until free agency begins in early January. Some have speculated that LaVine became frustrated this past season after becoming the second option to DeMar DeRozan.
However, LaVine helped recruit DeRozan to join the Bulls, and part of the reason he became the second option was due to his injured knee. LaVine underwent a successful scope procedure on his knee on Tuesday and is expected to fully recover.
That is good news for LaVine and whatever team gets to sign him. With LaVine expected to be able to make a full recovery, it means that he’ll likely be able to command a max contract from the Bulls.
For their part, the Bulls have never given any indication that they wouldn’t be willing to give LaVine the max. Ultimately though only time will tell if LaVine will re-sign with the Bulls or if he’ll choose to play elsewhere next season.