Zach LaVine may flirt with everyone at the bar, but league executives are sure who he is going home with.
LaVine said he would explore free agency, and there are teams interested: Portland with Damian Lillard, Dallas with Luka Doncic, the L.A. Lakers and LeBron James, Atlanta with Trae Young, and Miami with Jimmy Butler.
But around the league, the expectation is that LaVine would re-sign with the Bulls. There have been multiple reports along those lines, and now Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says the same thing.
LaVine’s free agency has generated plenty of conversation among NBA personnel over the past few weeks. But despite rumblings that the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers will make plays for LaVine, the coveted swingman is likely to remain with his current team.
Ironing out LaVine’s next deal appears centered on the fifth year of the contract. LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal totaling roughly $200 million. Whether that season is fully guaranteed, is a player option or nets other potential outcomes remains to be seen.
Two reasons will pull LaVine back to Chicago. First and foremost, money. 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. While the sides can debate the format of the fifth year all they want, no other team can offer it — to get the extra money he has to re-sig in Chicago.
Second is the role. There were rumblings that LaVine didn’t like sharing the No. 1 scoring role with DeMar DeRozan last season and he wants to be the clear first option. Ignoring the fact the best teams have multiple scoring options, all the teams flirting with LaVine — the ones mentioned above — want him to pair with another elite scorer. He’s more of a true first option in Chicago than he would be anywhere else (outside San Antonio, but does LaVine want to return to a rebuilding situation?).
In the end, LaVine will remain a Bull. With a few offseason roster tweaks and some better luck on the health front, the Bulls imagine making a deeper run next playoffs.