Report: Bulls offered Zach LaVine nearly as much as he got in matched Kings offer sheet

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Despite having 48 hours to match Zach LaVine‘s four-year, $78 million offer sheet from the Kings, the Bulls leaked their intention to keep him within two hours.

How did Chicago – who appeared to be in a pickle – decide so quickly? Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson were apparently already near that price tag.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

The latest offer the duo made to LaVine was just a couple million per year less than the $19.5 annual salary in the offer sheet he signed with the Kings, according to league sources.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

There are other benefits to the Bulls matching LaVine’s deal. One of the biggest is the Kings did some of the Bulls’ dirty work for them by including substantial injury protection for LaVine’s surgically repaired left knee in clauses of their offer sheet. That’s a negotiating point the Bulls didn’t introduce in their own negotiations because it likely would’ve alienated LaVine.

LaVine missed most of last season with a torn ACL. He struggled upon his return and got shut down again.

Depending on the exact format, the injury protections might help Chicago. But we know LaVine doesn’t believe they turned the contract in the team’s favor. Otherwise, he would have signed directly with the Bulls rather than inking an offer sheet.

LaVine used Sacramento to get better contract terms. Good for him.

But for him to justify this contract, he must play far better than he ever has. He’s just 23, so maybe he will.