Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bulls’ first offer to Zach LaVine near full Max contract: report

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The Chicago Bulls are playing a dangerous game with star free agent Zach LaVine, according to a new report from Kevin O’Connor from The Ringer. LaVine is considered one of four top-rated free agents by The Athletic’s John Hollinger.

LaVine is the fourth and final member of this tier. But he’s the only one of the four that’s unrestricted – the other three hold all player options.

ESPN 1000’s David Kaplan reported that some within the organization questioned whether LaVine had the requisite “dog mentality” to justify such an investment. Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported the cops would ‘take the leap of faith’

And yet there still seems to be some dismay in the Bulls’ front office about his value.

O’Connor appeared on The Bill Simmons Podcast when he dropped a little bombshell on unsuspecting Bulls fans. Despite LaVine being one of the best free agents available, the Bulls initially offered LaVine less than a full-max contract.

The two were discussing what the Portland Trail Blazers were doing this offseason when LaVine’s name came up.

Simmons asked O’Connor why LaVine appeared to be available now.

“I was told that initially the Bulls didn’t bid the full maximum. And that’s how negotiations actually came about.”

That appears to be a major obstacle to keeping LaVine in Chicago “for years to come,” Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said during his exit interview.

LaVine has also made it clear that he wants his “respect” during his exit interview.

“It is important to me. But you get paid for what you value. I see myself as a top guy in this league and I think I’ve proven that over the last four years. And I think we will negotiate about that. I think that’s what Marc (Eversley) [Artūras Karnišovas]she and Rich need to discuss that.”

Action Network’s Matt Moore reported that league sources “felt Karnisovas wasn’t originally sold to LaVine as a player.” Karnisovas inherited the guard when he took over and has since moved on from everyone on that roster except LaVine and Coby White.

White could be on the road this summer. But LaVine earned his keep in the eye of Karnisovas, according to Moore.

O’Connor said the Bulls’ attitude has changed since then. But they may still not be clear after trying to play hardball.

“I think that has changed … the offer will be the maximum. But whether or not LaVine accepts that remains to be seen.”

On O’Connor’s point, Yahoo Sports’ LaVine Vincent Goodwill said that this time he will keep an eye on his limited free agency from 2018. Attempting to quash him could be the impetus he needs to turn the Bulls down for a team that is rolling out the red carpet with free hands.

The Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs could both raise enough money to attack LaVine.

San Antonio, in particular, can push Texas’ lack of a state income tax to make up for the $50+ million that LaVine would leave on the table if he just walked away.

O’Connor and Simmons agreed that as plug-and-play as they come, LaVine is both realizing how good he would be in the Finals against the Golden State Warriors and even the Philadelphia 76ers.

“If you’re Zach LaVine, there are definitely a lot of teams that would want a young goalscorer in their mid-20s who can play with and without the ball… LaVine could have become a literal competitor in basketball.”

According to NBA.com, he was one of only five players to average at least 24 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists while shooting 38.0% or better from deep.

Hollinger added more context to remind everyone how good LaVine can be when it’s healthy.

LaVine underwent successful knee surgery on May 24 and is expected to make a full recovery. Karnisovas said he didn’t expect the injury to enter the negotiations even before the surgery was scheduled.

If not health, then why wait with the maximum?

When it comes to complicated issues, the simplest answer is often the right one. There were many public negotiations for both sides. But Cowley also revealed that should LaVine want to go elsewhere, the Bulls would focus on a defensive build.

It’s a topic brought up by Cowley during Karnisovas’ exit interview.

Karnisovas said that the front office is aware of the shortcomings of the current squad. That probably doesn’t include LaVine. But the guard could be used as an asset to bring back the pieces to make this a reality.

Despite consistent reports that the Bulls are the front runners and are the most likely to have LaVine in the jersey next season, this saga is far from over.

“I think that has changed … the offer will be the maximum. But whether or not LaVine accepts that remains to be seen.”



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