Bulls’ Zach LaVine Pushes Back on Trade Rumor Amid On-Court Absence

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls.

The Chicago Bulls won’t have Zach LaVine back in the lineup for another three to four weeks after the team announced he needed further rest to deal with foot inflammation. But any question over the absence being a ploy to keep Lavine out of harm’s way amid trade rumors is misguided, the two-time All-Star told reporters.

“I think it’s funny,” LaVine said of the latest speculation via NBC Sports Chicago on December 7. “For everybody that knows me, I try to play through everything. This has nothing to do with anything off the court, and everything off the court is still obviously very much speculation.”

LaVine’s three-to-four-week estimated timeline would put him on track to return right in time to align with the trade eligibility of players who signed deals this offseason.

Most will become eligible on December 15. But some will still be off-limits until January 15.

LaVine is in the second year of a five-year, $215 million contract. But trade rumors began before he got off to his sluggish start this season. The Bulls and LaVine – who entered the campaign saying this season was critical to the current core’s longevity in his third year alongside DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.

“It’s funny to me to see all the narratives and things like that that people run with, LaVine said. “And I deal with it internally. But it is what it is. I go out there and put my heart on for Chicago whenever I put that jersey on, and when I get back out there I’ll continue to do that.”

LaVine expressed similar sentiments this past offseason amid swirling rumors and the Bulls “quietly gauging” trade interest in him.

But the guard is growing weary of it.

Zach LaVine ‘Happy’ Bulls are Winning, ‘Tired’ of Internal Doubt

“He’s well aware that the Bulls tried to trade him last summer,” NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson wrote on December 7. “He’s also grown tired of the internal debate within the organization on whether he can be a lead player on a championship-contending team.”

The Bulls are 80-82 when LaVine plays over the last two-plus seasons, or as long as this core has been together, per Statmuse.

They are 14-10 without him in that span, including their current three-game winning streak.

“I’m happy for the team. If I’m not happy for the team, that would be saying something about me,” LaVine said. “We’re in a spot where, early, we weren’t looking very good. And whatever may have sparked it – if it was me off the court – we’ve won three games. I’m happy for it,”

LaVine supported from the bench during the three-game homestand. But he isn’t with the Bulls to start their road trip after receiving platelet-rich plasma injections. The two-game trip begins with the San Antonio Spurs on December 8. Chicago then visits the Milwaukee Bucks on December 11 and hosts the Denver Nuggets on December 12.

That one-game homestay precedes a three-game road trip. The Bulls are 1-8 away from the United Center this season.

LaVine hopes to get back soon and help.

“Me off the court, on the court, hopefully I can get this foot right to get back out there and help my guys,” LaVine said. “I’ve been in the locker room every day and out here training trying to get back out there to help everybody out because it’s fun when you’re winning.”

LaVine Takes Partial Ownership of Trade Rumors

“The storylines that are out there right now about me is on both [him and the Bulls],” LaVine said. “It’s something that wasn’t said completely verbally to the media. It’s something that is behind closed doors that a bunch of narratives can get spun around and said about me and stories will be portrayed. And that’s part of the business. I think that comes with it.”

LaVine previously said that the rumors were not coming from his camp. And while his latest remarks don’t constitute a reversal of that stance, he also had not denied the rumors before.

This time, he reaffirmed his dedication to his teammates for as long as they’re together.

“Am I still a part of this team and very committed? Yeah,” LaVine said. “I got a Bulls jersey on. I committed here. And for as long as I’ll be here, I’ll still support and love Chicago and go out there and play my heart out for those guys. That’s never going to change.”