Are LaVine rumors smoke without fire? Report says teams expect him to re-sign with Bulls

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K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago summed up the rumors swirling around Zach LaVine this way: “His return to the Bulls no longer is considered the slam dunk it once was.”

Smoke about LaVine swirled about the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Would he land with the Trail Blazers? Lakers? Hawks? It was a lot of smoke, but was there any fire? Not according to Sean Deveney at Heavy.com.

It is a lot of smoke, but no fire, yet…

“Business as usual,” one Eastern Conference general manager said. “The Bulls can give him more money. They can give him a chance to go to the playoffs every year. If he is not the No. 1 option, he is 1A and that is going to be the case in just about any place he goes if he is serious about leaving. Portland is out there as a possibility for him, and if he leaves, that is the only place where it would make any sense. But would he shoot more than Damian Lillard there? Of course not. It’s a lateral move, or even a step down a bit.”…

“A lot of this is coming from the agents, where they want to not only get him paid but raise his profile at the same time,” one league source told Heavy.com. “That is their M.O. The more drama in the process, the better. No one was talking about Zach. Now everyone is. Mission accomplished.”

Rich Paul’s Klutch Sports represents LaVine.

LaVine said he would explore free agency — the rumors didn’t come out of nowhere. However, the Bulls can offer LaVine five years, $212.3 million. The most another team can offer (or that he can get in a sign-and-trade) is four years, $157.4 million. The default position for every agent is to tell their client to take the big payday now; then, if they are unhappy and want out, a deal can be forced down the line (hello Ben Simmons!).

Where is LaVine going that’s a better landing spot than the Bulls? Chicago has a solid lineup with Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, among others — this is a playoff team every year. Maybe even one that could make a nice postseason run if they get better defensively and catch a couple of matchup breaks.

The smart money is on LaVine staying in Chicago — and the rumors about him being willing to leave the Bulls continuing right up until the contract is signed.