Bulls Star Makes Surprising Admission Following Max Contract

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls

Getty Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls listens during a time out

The Chicago Bulls and two-time All-Star Zach LaVine came to an agreement on the largest contract in franchise history this offseason. At $215 million over the next five years, the deal is worth more than Michael Jordan and Derrick Rose made in a Bulls uniform combined.

LaVine spoke with Natasha Dye of People Magazine and had much to say about his newfound reality.

That reality includes becoming a first-time father which he says becomes the top priority.

LaVine also had a message for Bulls fans – and maybe even more so for his detractors – who may be worried about him easing up now that he’s gotten the big payday. Not only did he get a max contract, but he also got a 15% trade kicker to go with it.

Same as Always

The Bulls’ offseason priority was re-signing LaVine and he wound up being their biggest move of the summer. Some have considered it a “no-brainer” such as The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg. But there was a point when it appeared more likely Lavine would exit for greener pastures.

Now he is the highest-paid player on a team that has propped open its window for contention.

Chicago’s lack of offseason juice puts an onus on incumbent players such as LaVine to improve but he says he feels the expectations are “around the same”.

“I think that’s why you get the contract, you play for that, and you are what you’re worth.”

LaVine is coming off of a very efficient season in which he was one of five players to average at least 24.0 points, 4.0 assists, and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting 38.0% or better from beyond the arc.

The rest of the list? Devin Booker, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving.

That is some elite company for LaVine to be among. And the former 13th-overall pick was even better before suffering a knee injury that required surgery this offseason.

It also kept him out of the Bulls’ series-deciding Game 5 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs. But the 27-year-old showed the stage wasn’t too big for him even as hobbled as he was with a pair of double-doubles in Game 1 and Game 4.

That is why he is telling fans not to worry about him continuing to go hard on the floor.

“People really don’t have to worry about that side, ’cause I think for me, I have my own bucket list and checklists and things that I want to accomplish for myself,” LaVine told Dye. “You know, I continue to go out there and play the way I am, have been, continue to, to try to lead the team to wins and get deeper and deeper into the playoffs.”

Championship or Bust

LaVine may not be feeling any additional pressure, and that is a good thing. But it certainly exists and comes with the territory of a max-contract player – and 14th highest average annual value in the NBA – writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.

The Bulls were sixth in NBA.com’s offseason power rankings, which are different from standings.

But Bulls legend Scottie Pippen has gone on record to say that he does not see this team as being a title contender. He is not alone as that sentiment was a driving factor in some rumors about LaVine’s free agency earlier this summer.

The only way for LaVine to exceed his new max contract as he did his last deal, says Mayberry, is to help lead the Bulls to their seventh title.

That sounds like greater expectations than last season when Bulls fans were satisfied snapping their playoff drought. Still, LaVine says he is confident in his talent and the work that he puts in and will continue to let his game do the talking.

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