The Chicago Bulls are officially on Zach LaVine watch as they wait and see what their star will decide when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in early July. Ever since the team was eliminated in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls have been inundated with rumors about LaVine signing elsewhere this summer.
If he doesn’t re-sign with the Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks have all been named as possible suitors for LaVine’s services, according to reports this week by NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson and Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
Assessing the suitability of each of the five teams, another NBA writer believes that a teaming of LaVine and Luka Doncic in Dallas would give Mavericks fans a chance to “watch the rings roll in.”
‘Ticket to Multiple Championships’
In a story published May 26, CBS Sports’ Sam Quinn took a look at each of the five teams on Johnson’s and Fischer’s lists and found promise in Dallas.
“At some point in the somewhat near future, an All-Star is going to look at Luka Doncic and realize he is their ticket to multiple championships,” Quinn wrote. “Doncic is in the Western Conference finals with no teammates close to LaVine’s level. Pair the two of them with the 3-and-D infrastructure Dallas has already built and watch the rings roll in.”
LaVine and Doncic, whose Mavericks were knocked out of the conference finals May 26 by the Golden State Warriors, would certainly make for an exciting and formidable pairing. If LaVine were to choose Dallas it’s likely that he would request a sign-and-trade so that he could still get the max contract of five years at $212 million that only the Bulls can offer him.
“Jalen Brunson would likely be at the center of any such negotiations, either going to Chicago or a third team in another sign-and-trade,” Quinn wrote. “Brunson does not have to participate. Dallas can offer picks, though it should be noted that the 2023 selection they owe the Knicks is protected in such a way that Dallas can’t trade any first-rounders until 2027.
“That’s a solvable problem, though. If they need to unlock more draft capital, they can simply negotiate the removal of the protections on the pick owed to the Knicks next year. That’s a nice metaphor for where the Mavericks stand here. It’s not likely, but it’s workable, at least moreso than it would be for the Lakers. If LaVine forces the issue, it’s downright possible.”
Bulls Still the Favorites
For all the rumors and speculation about LaVine’s potentially signing somewhere other than Chicago, some believe LaVine’s agency, Klutch Sports, is creating smoke to create its client’s value. One Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy’s Sean Deveney for a story published May 25 that the Bulls are still the favorites to sign LaVine.
Indeed, online sports book Bovada has the Bulls as the heavy favorites (-200) to re-sign LaVine, 27, to his sixth season in Chicago, according to a May 16 story by The Sports Geek.
The Bulls can still give LaVine the most money and a chance to make the playoffs. While there has been some speculation that he grew unhappy playing second fiddle to DeMar DeRozan in 2021-22, some of that can be attributed to his injured knee. LaVine also recruited DeRozan to join the Bulls.