League Sources Reveal Reason Behind Zach LaVine’s Desire to Leave Bulls

Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls.

Getty Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls have a lot of tasks to complete this offseason. If they want to continue to compete in the Eastern Conference, they need to add depth, improve their starting power forward position, and nail their draft picks. However, the first priority will be to re-sign star guard Zach LaVine.

After a non-committal exit interview left most fans questioning LaVine’s future with the team, rumors began flowing that he could depart from the Windy City this summer. And according to a recent report, the reason behind his potential decision to leave.

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NBA insider Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that DeMar DeRozan’s success could be the inadvertent reason LaVine leaves Chicago. He noted that DeRozan’s fourth-quarter brilliance took the spotlight away from LaVine, and league sources he spoke to said this could play a factor in LaVine’s upcoming offseason decision.

“One specific note has been frequently repeated by league figures with knowledge of the situation: The fourth quarter brilliance that put DeRozan in the MVP conversation often left LaVine watching from the corner as DeRozan isolated in the midpost,” Fischer explained.

Derozan’s dominance throughout the 2021-22 season made the Bulls his team when in hindsight, it was supposed to be LaVine’s show to run.

LaVine Forced Into ‘Supplementary Role’ With Bulls

For the four seasons before 2021-22, LaVine was the star of the show in Chicago. He led them in scoring for three of the four seasons and made his first All-Star team in 2021. However, with DeRozan’s arrival and subsequent rise back to stardom, LaVine was pushed to the side.

“While Chicago was supposed to be LaVine’s team, featuring new running mates for the Bulls’ All-Star centerpiece, LaVine was routinely rendered to a supplementary role alongside DeRozan,” Fischer reported.

DeRozan averaged 27.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in his first season with the Bulls, shooting 50.4% from the field and 35.2% from three-point range. The 32-year-old star tied for 10th in MVP voting and made it back to the All-Star Game for the first time in three years.

Meanwhile, LaVine averaged just 24.4 points a night – his lowest total since the 2018-19 season. He also attempted the fewest number of shots per game (17.7) since 2017-18.

Despite the rumors of LaVine’s potential departure, Fischer made sure to clarify the status of DeRozan’s and LaVine’s relationship.

Potential ‘Rift’ Between LaVine and DeRozan

While LaVine may have taken a backseat to DeRozan this past year, that doesn’t mean the two don’t get along. Fischer noted that there is no known rift between the two stars. The reason DeRozan’s dominance could cause LaVine to leave is simply due to the fact that the soon-to-be free agent may want a larger role.

“This is not to suggest a rift between LaVine and DeRozan,” Fischer mentioned. “But it provides necessary context as to why LaVine is suddenly viewed as a gettable free agent from rival front offices, as opposed to a straightforward extension case.”

The NBA insider mentioned that the two teams “often mentioned” as top suitors for LaVine are the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers. In addition, the San Antonio Spurs have been viewed as an intriguing destination due to LaVine’s connections with Dejounte Murray (from the Seattle area) and Gregg Popovich (from Team USA).

Chicago has a lot of work to do if they want to keep LaVine around for the foreseeable future. However, according to reports, they remain confident in their ability to bring him back.

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