May 20, 2022 | 1:39 pm EDT Update
The NBA Draft Combine is a place for young players to chase their dreams. It’s also, along with NBA Summer League, the premier destination for league gossip, with executives from all 30 teams, coaches and agents gathering in the same location. A prominent topic of conversation this week has been Zach LaVine’s future. Opinion — some of it educated, some of it guesswork — is varied on what the Chicago Bulls’ two-time All-Star guard will do when he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1. But this much is certain: His return to the Bulls no longer is considered the slam dunk it once was.
Whether that stems from LaVine’s own exit interview with local reporters in late April or a genuine belief he will leave the franchise that still can pay him the most is unknown. What’s certain is that league gossip throughout this week has linked LaVine to at least four teams — Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks, Hawks — with almost certainly more to follow.
Still, there is speculation from rival executives whether or not the Bulls will extend LaVine the full maximum contract of five years and roughly $212 million. The public stances of Reinsdorf and Karnišovas suggest otherwise.
James Boyd: #Pacers will have their second pre-draft workout Monday featuring: — Baylor’s James Akinjo — Alabama’s Keon Ellis — UCLA’s Johnny Juzang — Marquette’s Justin Lewis — Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard — Colorado State’s David Roddy
May 20, 2022 | 12:57 pm EDT Update
I don’t normally pay much attention to the musings of LaVar Ball, but his pronouncement this week in a podcast interview with David Kaplan that Zach LaVine wants out of Chicago will only amplify what has been whispered by a few interested teams: There is much more hope in circulation than anticipated that LaVine can be lured away from the Bulls in free agency. Although it would almost certainly require a sign-and-trade to actually land LaVine, given that the few teams projected to have salary-cap space this summer are not in the title mix, Mr. Ball — father of Bulls guard Lonzo Ball — has just boldly stated what had been quietly surmised in recent weeks about LaVine potentially chafing from all the praise DeMar DeRozan received this season. It would be a tough outcome for Bulls GM Arturas Karnišovas if LaVine indeed tries to force his way elsewhere after Chicago made three significant trades to acquire Nikola Vučević, Lonzo Ball and DeRozan with the hope of securing LaVine’s long-term commitment.