This offseason, the Bulls can offer Zach LaVine a four-year, $104.8 million contract extension, the most the team can put on the table under the CBA. LaVine will turn that down — and he should, he is a max or near-max player, an All-Star this season who is getting consideration for All-NBA. LaVine made a leap this season — averaging 27.5 points a game with a bump in efficiency — and will want to be paid like an elite shot creator.
The Bulls could use their cap space this summer to renegotiate LaVine’s contract then extend him off that new deal, or, more likely, he heads to free agency in the summer of 2022. Whatever path he takes, it has been expected LaVine wanted the respect (and money) of a max player.
But there is some hope within the Bulls he may take a little less, reports Joe Cowley at the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Sun-Times, as well as several other media outlets, reported at the start of the 2020-21 campaign that it was important for LaVine to be given max money moving forward. However, there are several sources who said that might not be the case any longer, as adding key role players around him could persuade LaVine to give the Bulls a slight discount.
Chicago trading for Nikola Vucevic has been seen around the league as a move to appease LaVine — who will not have made the playoffs in his four years with the Bulls — and keep him in the Windy City by building a playoff-caliber roster (it didn’t work out that way this year because LeVine missed three critical weeks after testing positive for COVID after the trade).
We’ll see about the discount, maybe LaVine is considering it and maybe it’s the team trying to plant a seed. Getting that max is a sign of value and status among players, and LaVine wants that respect. Beyond that, it’s fair to ask if the Reinsdorf family will spend that saved money to really build a top-flight team; this is a franchise that does not often venture into the tax. Maybe things are different with vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas running the show, but it’s a fair thing for LaVine and his agent to consider.
Whatever happens, LaVine’s next contract will bring real generational wealth his way.