Whether it was genuine or his agent trying to drum up a fake story to pump up his client’s ego/standing, Zach LaVine attempted to make this interesting. He said he would explore free agency, and stories about interested teams in Portland, Dallas, and of course the L.A. Lakers, were written.
Nobody was buying it. Around the league, the expectation had been LaVine would re-sign with the Bulls. Friday the expected came to fruition, and LaVine agreed to a $215.2 million max extension with the Bulls, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
NBA All-Star Zach LaVine has agreed to a five-year, $215.2 million maximum contract to return to the Chicago Bulls, with a player option in Year 5, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul told @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2022
LaVine, an All-Star, averaged 24.4 points per game last season. He’s on a team built around his skill set. He was never leaving.
LaVine was never likely to bolt because no team could come near to matching the money — the most another team could offer is $157.4 million. That’s a lot less guaranteed cash.
There were reports after the season — during the flirting with other teams portion of LaVine’s sommer — that he had some frustration sharing the No. 1 scoring role with DeMar DeRozan last season. Maybe that’s true, all great scorers want the ball in their hands at the ends of games, and the Bulls leaned on DeRozan, who was clutch last season. But unless LaVine wanted to go to a rebuilding team where he would be the center of a heliocentric offense — putting up a lot of points but losing a lot of games — that was going to be the case. Damian Lillard in Portland, Luka Doncic in Dallas, LeBron James with the Lakers, LaVine wasn’t going to be on the top of the food chain anywhere but Chicago, even if he has to share that at times.
Now we will see what other moves the Bulls’ front office makes to try and lift the team from its good but not elite status.