Zach LaVine expected to re-sign with Bulls on 5-year max extension

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

As we enter the NBA offseason, most teams probably have their full attention directed towards the impending 2022 Draft and free agency period. The Chicago Bulls are the exception here, as these two events take the backseat to an even more important unfolding affair. The uncertainty surrounding Zach LaVine‘s future in Chicago has without a doubt been the story of the summer so far for the Bulls.

Things started heating up regarding LaVine in May when Bulls beat reporter K.C. Johnson reported that “[LaVine’s] return to the Bulls no longer is considered the slam dunk it once was.” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst corroborated this report and also seemed to suggest that LaVine would be available to other teams this summer (before changing his tune a week later) either in free agency or via a sign-and-trade.

Here is the original full quote from Johnson,

"A prominent topic of conversation this week has been Zach LaVine’s future. Opinion — some of it educated, some of it guesswork — is varied on what the Chicago Bulls’ two-time All-Star guard will do when he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1. But this much is certain: His return to the Bulls no longer is considered the slam dunk it once was.Whether that stems from LaVine’s own exit interview with local reporters in late April or a genuine belief he will leave the franchise that still can pay him the most is unknown. What’s certain is that league gossip throughout this week has linked LaVine to at least four teams — Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Hawks — with almost certainly more to follow.LaVine, who is expected to have his arthroscopic knee surgery early next week, made it clear in his final media session that he will take his time to make his decision. The Bulls are fully expecting LaVine to take visits, be wined and dined and explore the unrestricted free agency he has earned."

Fresh off his second-consecutive All-Star appearance, Zach LaVine has finally started to earn the respect he deserves around the league. Unfortunately for the Bulls, it also means they’re going to have to pay a premium to retain his services.

LaVine has been as dependable as it gets during his five years in Chicago. He has maintained averages of 24.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game during that span. Over the last three seasons, LaVine has even scored the 10th most points of any player in the NBA. For this Bulls team, his offensive firepower is simply irreplaceable, and losing LaVine this summer would be a catastrophic failure.

Although recent reports had forecast a bit of uncertainty on Zach LaVine’s future, he’s now expected to re-sign on a 5-year max deal with the Bulls.

For the reasons stated above, it should come as no surprise that the front office has made re-signing LaVine their top priority this summer. Fortunately, it appears the Bulls may have been successful in their effort to sway the star shooting guard.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer was the first to break the news of LaVine’s intentions on Tuesday, stating, “Two-time All-Star Zach LaVine is expected to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls once the free-agency negotiation period opens June 30.” However, many still saw this report as dubious. Until LaVine inks the dotted line, it’s impossible to know for sure what LaVine really wants.

It does help that former ESPN analyst Marc Stein (subscribers only) has also come out to support the notion that Chicago and LaVine have agreed to terms. The Bulls are reportedly in the process of informing interested teams that Zach LaVine will not be available this summer, and are working towards giving him the full 5-year max.

Assuming LaVine doesn’t take a pay cut, a full max contract would doll out $212 million over five years, making this potentially the largest contract ever signed in Chicago Bulls history. Had LaVine managed to stay healthy and secure a spot on an All-NBA Team sometime in the last four years, the Bulls would have been left holding an even bigger bag of cash up to $248 million.

Fortunately for the Bulls, Zach won’t be eligible for a cap-straining supermax. Even more fortunate for these Bulls, is that he still seems intent on re-upping with the team that can give him the most money and the best chance to win. Once LaVine has put pen to paper and signed a contract extension, Chicago can finally go to work putting the pieces around him necessary to advance through the Eastern Conference gauntlet.

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