Zach LaVine, From ‘Consolation Prize’ to Max Player for the Bulls

Zach LaVine

Getty Images Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls hit their biggest goal of the offseason when they re-signed all-star guard Zach LaVine to a five-year $215 million max contract. The Bulls had competition for LaVine’s services as the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks were all rumored to be interested.

Ultimately LaVine’s love for Chicago led to him staying with the Bulls. The signing allowed the Bulls to keep the teams core together and give them a chance to get healthy and run it back next season.

The Bulls were 27-13 and in first place in the eastern conference before the injury bug hit in January. Injuries to LaVine, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso caused Chicago to drop to sixth place in the conference and led to them losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

Revisiting the LaVine Trade

LaVine was part of the Jimmy Butler trade after the 2016-17 season. The Bulls received LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn as part of the trade. Butler ultimately only played 69 games for the Timberwolves before he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2018-19 season.

In the most recent episode of the “Bulls Talk Podcast,” K.C. Johnson and Rob Schaefer were talking about LaVine’s re-signing. Schaefer posed an interesting question to Johnson asking “What was the original ranking of the assets they got back that night?”

The question drew an interesting answer from Johnson.

“Probably believe it or not third and here’s why,” Johnson said, “because Markkanen was this intriguing unicorn potential seven-foot shooter unknown, and if he hits he’s going to be a franchise-type player so he’s probably first and then Kris Dunn he’s probably second just because he had been linked to the Bulls the year before and I had watched him play in summer league and he was this Marcus Smart like defender and had potential. Here’s the other thing, there were rumors that the Bulls were negotiating on whether or not that would be Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine, so LaVine was almost viewed as the consolation prize.”

Given how things have played out since that trade it’s amazing to think how things have changed. LaVine has developed into a two-time all-star in Chicago and is now a max player.

Bulls Offseason

While the Bulls hit their ultimate goal of re-signing LaVine the rest of their moves in free agency haven’t blown anyone away. Chicago chose to re-sign Derrick Jones Jr. to a two-year contract and then added Andre Drummond on a two-year deal along with Goran Dragic.

While Dragic and Drummond are both solid veteran pickups neither player really addresses the Bulls’ issues from last season. The team’s two biggest issues were rim protection and three-point shooting.

Dragic is a career 36.2% three-point shooter, which isn’t bad but you’d think the Bulls would want to do more. While Drummond is a solid backup center addition he isn’t an elite rim protector, averaging 1.5 blocks per game for his career, but 1.0 or less in each of the last four seasons.

The Bulls now have 15 players on their roster which could be done in free agency. Chicago could still look to make a trade if something presents itself but for now it looks like the roster is set.

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