In recent weeks, the Chicago Bulls have been the focal point of the NBA rumor mill. Despite having their most successful season in five years, they now find themselves in a potential predicament, as two-time All-Star Zach LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Initially, many believed LaVine re-signing with the Bulls to be a foregone conclusion. But after a non-committal exit interview and several reports, that’s no longer the case. However, the Bulls are still confident in their ability to retain the star.
KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago joined the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score on Tuesday. According to the long-time Bulls insider, Chicago remains confident in their ability to re-sign LaVine to an extension this summer.
“The Bulls are still very confident in their ability to re-sign Zach LaVine,” Johnson reported. “Michael Reinsdorf has said it. Arturas Karnisovas has said it. They still have the power to pay him more than any other franchise.”
Chicago has the ability to hand LaVine a five-year deal worth roughly $212 million. Meanwhile, the best he could get from another team on the market would be a four-year deal worth around $157 million. And since LaVine has made it clear that he wants to get paid, it could be hard for him to leave $55 million on the table.
Despite this confidence, Johnson also noted that other teams could still pose a serious threat to the Bulls this summer.
Lavine’s Time in Free Agency Should Be ‘Fascinating’
After revealing the Bulls’ confidence levels, Johnson also made sure to discuss the potential issues Chicago could run into. He said that other teams around the league plan to pursue LaVine “aggressively” this summer.
“The fact that he’s going to look at other teams legitimately is serious,” Johnson revealed. “I think the fact that other teams are going to make an aggressive bid to get him is serious. And I think the fact that the Bulls are very confident that they’re going to retain him are all serious, are all simultaneously [true]. It’s going to be a fascinating free agency in July.”
In an article published on May 20, Johnson stated that four teams have been linked to LaVine in trade talks so far. Those teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks. He said that more teams should pop up in conversations soon but that those four have already expressed interest.
LaVine made sure to keep his options open during his exit interview, leaving Bulls fans in the dark about his offseason plans.
LaVine on Free Agency: ‘It’s a Big Decision’
During his exit interview with the Bulls, LaVine said that he plans on heading into free agency “open-minded,” noting that it’s a major decision for him and his family.
“It’s a big decision, not just for me, but for my family,” said the two-time All-Star. “Obviously, I’m going to take my time and look into everything, talk with my agent. I think it’s an opportunity not a lot of people in my situation actually get to get to and I think it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.”
This summer will be LaVine’s first time entering unrestricted free agency, so it’s not surprising to see him considering all options. But despite all the rumors, Johnson says the Bulls are still convinced that they can keep LaVine in the Windy City.