Zach LaVine has said he would explore free agency and the list of his rumored landing spots is long. However, the smart money has always been on those being more smokescreen than reality and he would re-sign with the Bulls. Now comes another report along those lines from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on his The Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip Real GM).
“I don’t think Zach LaVine wants to leave. That’s not my read.”
The logic behind LaVine staying in Chicago starts with the most important thing in free agency — money.
LaVine said getting a max offer matters to him. The Bulls can offer LaVine five years, $212.3 million, while the most another team can offer — even in a sign-and-trade — is four years, $157.4 million. Does anyone really think his agent, Rich Paul, will suggest leaving that money on the table? Even if LaVine is frustrated with the Bulls and wants out, most agents recommend that the contract travels — get the big money now, force your way out down the line.
The Bulls built a lineup to keep LaVine happy and in Chicago: DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso and more. That’s a playoff lineup in the East. Anywhere else LaVine wants to go, he’s going to share the ball and the spotlight as he does with DeRozan.
In the end, expect LaVine to flirt with other teams and then take the money. The smart money remains on him staying with the Bulls.