Zach LaVine is after what he believes he deserves.
The 26-year-old, coming off his first All-Star appearance and Olympic Games, is entering the final year of his current contract with the Chicago Bulls. Expectations are mounting, both internally and externally.
LaVine is looking for “respect” from the franchise in his next deal.
“I just want my respect,” LaVine said during the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, per NBC Sports. “I think that’s the main thing. I outplayed my [current] contract, I’ve been very loyal to Chicago, I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If it’s now, later, it’s something that we gotta work out internally and we’ll go from there.”
LaVine has earned Chicago’s respect, but whether loyalty will be returned is a conversation he is content postponing for another day.
“I wouldn’t even be worried about my contract situation,” LaVine said after pouring in 23 of his points in the second half, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m worried about Game 1 and seeing where it goes from there. When that time comes, we’ll see what happens and go from there, but I’m worried about the Bulls’ season right now.”
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LaVine has always been an electric athlete. He’s emerged as one of the league’s elite scorers.
But in 2021, he’s already showing more after his experience playing with some of the NBA’s best in Tokyo.
Disruptive on defense against the Pistons, LaVine and the new-look Bulls proved they could win a defensive gridlock after flashing their offense’s ability in the preseason.
The Bulls muscled out a gritty 94-88 season-opening victory over the Detriot Pistons on Wednesday. LaVine posted 34 points, the most he’s scored in a season-opener, to lead the Bulls to their first season-opening win since 2016.
“The shots that he made and the things that he does athletically and talent-wise, I think people have seen for years out of him,” coach Billy Donovan said, per the Sun-Times. “He’s always kind of had that. I think he’s looking at things through a different lens. His voice is there; there’s different messaging coming from him in a really, really good way. He sees things in a different way now based on his [All-Star and Olympic] experiences.”
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Defense Shows Up in Second Half
Chicago struggled shooting in the opening quarter, trailing 20-14. The Bulls converted on 7-for-25 (28%) from the field and missed all five of its three-point attempts.
As the offense gained its bearings in the second half, the Pistons, playing resolute, did not back down. The Bulls backcourt accepted the challenge.
DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso both tallied three steals in the second half. LaVine also had a steal and a block in the final half.
“As long as we come with energy on both ends of the floor, our offense will find its way,” LaVine said, per the Sun-Times.