Bulls’ Zach LaVine Sounds off on Grudge With Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau

Zach LaVine

Getty Zach LaVine addressed the perceived grudge between Tom Thibodeau and him.

Zach LaVine admitted there was once a grudge toward Tom Thibodeau.

While coaching for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Thibodeau traded LaVine and Kris Dunn and a second-round pick to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler — an experiment that lasted just one full season in Minnesota but has carried monumental impact on both organizations.

LaVine, who delivered a dagger to Thibodeau and the New York Knicks with 22.8 seconds left on the clock that pushed the Bulls to a 110-102 victory on Monday, chalked up his late-game 3-pointer to the will to win — not resentment towards Thibs.

LaVine has matured into an elite scoring threat as the No. 1 option in Chicago over the past four seasons. His animosity toward Thibodeau has simmered in that time passed.

“Me and Thibs are cool. Obviously playing against old coaches — I’m just going out there to win it’s not a grudge thing for me,” LaVine said. “I think my grudge game was the first time we played a game against him with the Timberwolves. I got that out of my system and after that, I’ve been pretty good.”

The grudge game LaVine referred to? It came on LaVine 12th start for the Bulls when the Timberwolves visited the United Center on Feb. 9, 2018. He helped the Bulls overcome an 11-point halftime deficit, scoring 35 points.

LaVine’s only three of the night came with 40.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game as the Bulls went on to win 114-113.

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LaVine’s Evolution Into an Elite Scoring Threat

LaVine splashed onto the NBA landscape with his athletic reputation and performance in the dunk contest in his early years.

But later in his career, he’s coupled that athleticism with improvement shooting from the field. Once a seldom threat outside the arc, LaVine is now averaging a career-high 3.5 threes made per game.

He’s also in the midst of career-best marks in points per game (26.6), rebounds per game (5.3), assists per game (5.1) to go along with highs in field-goal percentage (51.0%), three-point percentage (41.9%) and free-throw percentage (88.1%).

LaVine on the ‘Knicks’ Radar

Could Thibodeau right his wrong and make a trade for LaVine?

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Feb. 2 that the Knicks have LaVine “on their radar” for a possible trade this season.

Here’s what Berman wrote:

The Knicks need more scoring and LaVine is a sniper — one of the best dunkers in the NBA. He’s averaging 26.8 points and 5.3 assists. SNY reported over the summer LaVine would be on the Knicks’ radar.

The biggest edge the Knicks would have over many teams interested is they have $18 million in cap space to absorb a big contract without giving away much salary. He’s one of many players on the Knicks’ radar, sources contend. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf could be hesitant to deal LaVine to Thibodeau considering his Bulls’ breakup was ugly.

LaVine is proving his worth this season and could draw in a steep price tag for potential trades. Chicago’s new front office is in the midst of evaluating the team this season in a year where every star’s spot feels fleeting at times.

Until a move is made, LaVine will continue to build his reputation in the league as he’s making a strong case for the first All-Star nod of his career.

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