3 Concerns Bulls Should Have Negotiating with Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bulls
Zach LaVine (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The way the Chicago Bulls ended their season wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Fortunately, it looked clear early on in the season that the pieces to make a serious run were there until serious injuries to key guys like Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso derailed everything.

Now faced with an offseason of uncertainty, getting the full squad healthy will be a priority in the Windy City over the summer, as will be deciding how to retain star Zach LaVine on a deal that’ll be fair for both sides.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported in his offseason guide (subscription required), LaVine is now eligible to sign a five-year, $212 million max contract with Chicago this summer. That would effectively lock the high-scoring All-Star with the Bulls through age 32 but also be a huge figure on the books for the foreseeable future.

Clearly, LaVine outplayed his current contract in the past couple of years, but it’ll be important for the Bulls to still give themselves some protection while also making him happy this offseason. While there are several factors to consider when negotiating, these three concerns should be on the front office’s mind as they begin talks.

Chicago Bulls
Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

1. Durability issues mean the Bulls must protect themselves

The unfortunate reality of knee injuries is that they can often be recurring issues that hamper professional athletes throughout their careers. LaVine had his left knee surgically repaired in 2017 and is now set to meet with a specialist to determine how to get him back to 100% this offseason.

A torn ACL often leads to long-term complications, and that’s what LaVine had addressed in 2017. Fortunately, he’s been able to play well since that surgery, but he’s admitted that’s often come at the expense of playing through pain and discomfort.

The number one priority for the Bulls and LaVine should be to get him back to fully healthy before he picks up a basketball again, but the uncertainty of when that might happen should affect what the two sides agree upon when negotiating a new deal.

As Bobby Marks points out, Chicago had a clause in their contract with LaVine that protected them if he suffered a major injury to the left knee, but they likely wouldn’t be able to get that same clause this time around.

His suggestion, instead, is to negotiate a clause saying LaVine must appear in a certain number of games to be guaranteed a chunk of his money in the last year. Chicago would be very wise to look at some kind of terms like these, especially if they’re going to commit to Zach long-term.