Just when it appeared as though all of the offseason Chicago Bulls news would come without any worry or concern, we get wind of a potentially harmless, but possibly catastrophic happening with Zach LaVine.
On Friday night, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported LaVine is expected to sign with Klutch Sports Group.
In case you’re unaware, Klutch Sports Group is an agency founded by LeBron James and his childhood friend Rich Paul. Klutch is the home for several NBA athletes including LaVine’s new teammate Lonzo Ball, James and his current teammate Anthony Davis, and several other big names.
The immediate reaction from several Bulls fans is, “oh my God, is LeBron recruiting LaVine away from Chicago? You know, Zach is a free agent at the end of the season.”
While anything can happen in free agency, and no one is signed, sealed and delivered until they’ve placed their John Hancock on the bottom line, there isn’t any real reason to panic–at least not at this point.
LaVine Seems to Be Committed to Chicago
Over the past 6-8 months, LaVine has done nothing but reaffirm his commitment to Chicago. He sounds like a man ready to sign what would be a max deal with the Bulls at the end of the upcoming season.
There is a chance he could sign an extension with the Bulls before then, but that would cost him money there is no real reason for him to sacrifice. LaVine can sign the most lucrative deal available to him if he waits until the end of the 2021-22 NBA season.
It makes sense for LaVine to wait, but that will also open him up to receive major offers opposing front offices, and pitches from fellow NBA superstars. After traveling to Tokyo to win a gold medal in the Olympics, LaVine seems hellbent on continuing success. He somewhat embarrassingly admitted that the Olympic experience was the first time he’d won four games in a row since college.
Throughout his career with the Bulls and the Minnesota Timberwolves, LaVine hasn’t experienced a ton of winning. In fact, he’s never made the playoffs or even been on a team with a winning record in the regular season.
While LaVine seems to want to stay in Chicago, the desire to win is a real one.
Chicago Doesn’t Have to Worry, Yet
Quite honestly, any panic related to LaVine switching agents is premature, overreacting and another example of demonizing James and his massive influence across the sport.
Bulls fans won’t have to worry too much about losing LaVine unless the team falls woefully short of their own expectations. Notice, I said their expectations; Many prognosticators aren’t leaning into the Bulls as a team with much of a high ceiling.
We’ve seen ESPN and other outlets have Chicago missing the playoffs or battling for entry in the play-in tournament. The Eastern Conference will be much more competitive this season than it has been in the past, if things play out as expected.
However, if the Bulls aren’t within range of the No.4 seed this year, the possibility of losing LaVine in free agency becomes even greater.
At that point, the link to Klutch puts him in the pipeline for a few other teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers.