Bulls Issued Grim Warning Over Zach LaVine’s Lingering Injury, Contract Decision

Zach LaVine

Getty Images Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls’ season came to an end in disappointing fashion on Wednesday night in a 116-100 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks finished off the series 4-1, winning the last three games of the series by an average of 23.33 points per game.

While it’s a disappointing end to the season for the Bulls, it’s important to acknowledge the major improvements the team made this season. Chicago finished the season with a record of 46-36 after finishing the 2021 season 31-41.

When the Bulls were healthy this season they were among the top teams in the NBA. Chicago was 27-11 in mid-January when the injury bug started with injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Derrick Jones Jr. The Bulls still managed to run their record to 39-21, but after that being shorthanded really took its toll on the team as they closed the season 7-15 over the last 22 games.

Sleepless Nights

The Bulls’ improvements this season were largely influenced by their aggressive offseason last year. Landing DeMar DeRozan, Ayo Dosunmu, Ball, and Caruso was huge for Chicago.

With that said if the Bulls are going to become a championship contender, this offseason will just as important for the team. The first big decision for Chicago will be Zach LaVine as he is an unrestricted free agent. LaVine is eligible for a max contract of five years and $212 million.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks has released his offseason guide for the Bulls and he had some interesting comments about the LaVine’s contract situation.

“What his(LaVine) next contract is going to be is going to be one of the more fascinating decisions out there,” said Marks, “just because if you asked me in February is he a max player, he is. If you asked me now is he a max player, basketball-wise he is. I don’t know where that knee is going, he certainly had soreness in it throughout the better half of the last month here. We’ll see what happens when he gets a physical, we’ll see if he has to get a scope done or something. It’s going to come with challenges as far as writing him a blank check for five years $212 million. I would have a lot of sleepless nights writing him that check.”

“Year four and five would be a killer, especially if that injury kind of lingers around here… For me writing him, man it’s a whopper, you’re basically looking at the last year is $48.3 million. So what do you do? Do you do a three-year deal with a fourth-year non-guaranteed?”

Marks goes on to mention the possibility of putting in a games clause in LaVine’s contract. He also said he does believe LaVine will be back with the Bulls it will just be a question of what his contract will look like.

Other Decisions

While LaVine is certainly priority number one for the Bulls, he isn’t the only decision they have to make. Jones Jr. and Tristan Thompson will also be free agents so they’ll have to decide if they want to retain them.

The Bulls also have a bit of a logjam in the backcourt with Ball, Caruso, Dosunmu, and Coby White. It will be interesting to see if the team chooses to trade someone like White in hopes of addressing another need like three-point shooting or rim protection.

Chicago also currently has the 18th pick in the NBA Draft, so that will be another opportunity to improve their roster. The Bulls have a lot of decisions to make in the months ahead.