NBA rumors: Bulls confident about keeping Zach LaVine

He offered that with a caveat though. “I’m just reporting what I was hearing at the Combine – and that is multiple people connected to other teams, agents, etc., the chatter at that Combine, the representation of that chatter is that Zach is very much in play,” Johnson said. “Now that said, the Bulls are still very confident in their ability to re-sign Zach LaVine. Michael Reinsdorf has said it. Arturas Karnisovas has said it. They still have the power to pay him more than any other franchise.”

More on Zach LaVine Free Agency

🎥: K.C Johnson: Bulls' Zach LaVine going to explore options during free agency | NBC Sports Chicago

http://twitter.com/NBCSChicago/status/1529696077519196163
So what should we expect to happen? K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago joined the Mully & Haugh Show on Tuesday morning to discuss LaVine’s future. “The safe bet is still that Zach will return (to Chicago),” Johnson said.
“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.”
The agents mentioned are those from Klutch Sports, which has star clients like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Trae Young and, yes, LaVine’s Bulls teammate, Lonzo Ball. The latest round of chatter around LaVine likely has more to do with Klutch angling to make sure that LaVine keeps his old as the top Bulls star going forward. That’s likely to be the case without this wave of late-May drama, given that DeRozan turns 33 in August and is not likely to repeat the kind of season he just put forth, with a career-high in scoring (27.9 points) and the second-best shooting (50.4%) of his career. “It is still Zach’s team,” the NBA source said. “Klutch just wants to make sure everyone knows it.”
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago joined the Mully & Haugh Show on Tuesday morning to discuss LaVine’s future. “The safe bet is still that Zach will return (to Chicago),” Johnson said. He offered that with a caveat though. “I’m just reporting what I was hearing at the Combine – and that is multiple people connected to other teams, agents, etc., the chatter at that Combine, the representation of that chatter is that Zach is very much in play,” Johnson said. “Now that said, the Bulls are still very confident in their ability to re-sign Zach LaVine. Michael Reinsdorf has said it. Arturas Karnisovas has said it. They still have the power to pay him more than any other franchise.”
Zach LaVine -- who starred at UCLA before getting drafted #13 overall in 2014 -- hit up Craig's in West Hollywood with his wife, Hunter ... and after chowing down on some grub, the cameras had to ask him about his future. The 2-time Slam Dunk champ initially played it cool ... explaining his appearance shouldn't be a big deal, considering he lives in L.A. When asked to give a message to Laker Nation, LaVine's response is enough to give fans a glimmer of hope. "I've always been a big fan," he said as he hopped in his Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon.
Along with Atlanta, Portland is most often mentioned as a top LaVine suitor. LaVine is a Seattle native, just a few hours' drive north of the Trail Blazers' facilities, and shares a relationship with Damian Lillard from their Team USA days.
The premise that Zach LaVine's contract expiration would swiftly result in a lucrative extension with Chicago has dissolved, sources told B/R. However, the Bulls are still considered likely to retain LaVine on the open market.
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.
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.
LaVar Ball on Zach LaVine to Lakers: “He’s gone, and I’m gonna tell you why,” Ball said. “Okay, it started off Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine. Okay, now you get hurt, a few things happen, and guess who’s doing all the big plays? All I hear is DeMar. DeMar, DeMar, DeMar. He don’t want to play second fiddle, and who don’t want to go to L.A.? He want to go back to the West Coast.”
Zach LaVine's return may not be in the bag for the Chicago Bulls as the two-time All-Star approaches unrestricted free agency. ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported at the 22:00 mark of his Hoop Collective podcast Tuesday that the initial impression around the NBA was that LaVine was "off the market." Now, there isn't as much certainty about him staying in Chicago. Windhorst added that the Portland Trail Blazers have "popped up" as a potential landing spot.
In the NBA, it's rare for long-time friends to get a chance to play on the same team, and it is less likely that, if that does happen, both are star players. But it appears that San Antonio Spurs' guard Dejounte Murray wants that to become a reality. A couple of days ago, Murray had fans in a frenzy when he tweeted a photoshopped image of Zach LaVine in a Spurs uniform. The image has since been deleted but not before Lavine caught wind of it. According to a Tweet from Jon Greenberg of The Athletic, LaVine stated Murray posting him in a Spurs uniform was him "just messing around."
When LaVine was asked by reporters if he plans to re-sign with the Chicago Bulls, he stated he wants to experience free agency. "I plan to enjoy free agency," LaVine told reporters. "We're going to have to experience A through Z without making any fast decisions. I think that's something me and [agent Rich Paul] are going to go through and experience."
That's a lot of dough. And in the opinion of All-Star teammate DeMar DeRozan, LaVine is worth every penny. "Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything," DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls' season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. "He's one of those players in this league that you don't see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he's able to do. He deserves everything that's coming to him for sure."
How important is getting into that postseason environment with this group and making a deep run with these guys before your upcoming contract negotiations? Zach LaVine: For me, it's not even about my contract. I'm a competitor. I want to go to the playoffs and play on the big stage. Contract, everything, that all comes. But I look at it day by day. You can't get to April in a day. You're gonna have to play and compete each and every day to get there, and then once the playoffs come, we gotta go do our thing. You know I'm really excited. I'm really excited to be on that stage, because I haven't been there yet.
The Bulls have quickly elevated to the top of the East, with shrewd trades and signings — and keeping LaVine as a rare holdover. This regime keeps its strategy a mystery, but Zach LaVine is making a case for a max contract — which he won’t definitively say but won’t deny, either. “I think we all get what we deserve at the level we play at, for our team and around the league. I think I stack up with everybody at that level,” he said. “We’ll let the chips fall. Is the [max] the goal? I don’t know if it’s the goal, but I should be getting what I deserve. I’ll let them tell me what that is and we’ll go from there.”
He’ll be a free agent in July — an unrestricted free agent. A big playoff run could erase any remaining doubts, if there are any. “Free agency is gonna be a big milestone for me,” LaVine told Yahoo Sports. “It's my first time going into it really being [an] unrestricted free agent. I dealt with it being restricted before so it's a whole new experience. I'm excited for the season with the Bulls. But you know, moving forward, it's gonna be a whole new experience for me.”
That restricted free agency experience sticks with him. He’s not on the Michael Jordan scale of petty or the Scottie Pippen scale of delusion, but he quietly craves the validation. LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal around $200 million this summer if he re-signs with the Bulls — and higher if he makes an All-NBA team. He can get a four-year deal around $160 million if he outright signs with another team. “I remember everything now,” LaVine said, smiling. “I know it's a different front office, a different time. But I'm gonna take it day by day and let my agent handle it. But I remember everything. It's something — I always have a chip on my shoulder for multiple reasons.”
KC Johnson: I’d say every indication I’ve been given both internally from his side and the organization is this is a match made to move forward together. I don’t think you expend the draft capital this regime has doled out in the Vucevic trade and the DeRozan acquisition without doing everything in your power to appease your No. 1 player and to try and win now. We know the Bulls have the ability to pay him more than any other franchise. There’s also not a lot of cap space out there this summer. With the funky situations with Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving, are there some All-NBA spots up for grabs in the backcourt in the league? If he earns that distinction, he’s super-max eligible. There are a million reasons why I think he’s going to be here long-term. He has really embraced being the face of the franchise ever since the Jimmy Butler trade, even when they were bad. He’s always been front and center as the star of the team, always available media-wise, he’s a good representative of the franchise, he loves living in Chicago, he loves the history and legacy of the franchise.
That’s what matters now more than anything for LaVine — getting wins. Will victories influence him to want to stay with the Bulls or will he look to go elsewhere? Talk for another day. “I wouldn’t even be worried about my contract situation,’’ LaVine said. “I’m worried about Game 1 and seeing where it goes from there. When that time comes, we’ll see what happens and go from there, but I’m worried about the Bulls’ season right now.’’
Even if the Bulls fail to make the playoffs again, he is still a good bet to re-sign with them given how little cap space there is elsewhere. Vucevic is also currently eligible for an extension worth up to three years, $85.5 million. He can only sign it during the offseason.
The Bulls and LaVine did have extension discussions before free agency, sources said, but they did not find common ground. Instead Chicago executed sign-and-trade deals for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan and signed Alex Caruso as a free agent last month, spending nearly $200 million as they look to break a four-year playoff drought.
The Bulls’ offseason overhaul couldn’t have come at a better time, as Zach LaVine is on the final year of his contract with an extension yet to be signed. But if it were up to LaVine himself, he’s reportedly all-in on staying in the Windy City. That’s according to ESPN Chicago radio analyst David Kaplan, who’s heard from sources that the All-Star doesn’t want to go anywhere. Via ESPN 1000 FM: “He has told people that I know: ‘Hey man, if they want me here, I’m not going anywhere. I’m building this thing. I’m the first guy in the door. I wanna be part of this.'”
What is your take on the Zach LaVine FA rumors in 2022? How realistic is it for the Celtics financially and roster wise? Thanks, Jeff. Brian Robb: LaVine is a name that has been floated for a little bit as a potential target for Boston if Bradley Beal elects to stay put in Washington. His age and position do line up fairly well among Boston’s current group, however, there are some significant obstacles in any pursuit of the shooting guard during the next year.
A potential Celtics free agent target could be Chicago’s Zach LaVine, who is entering the final year of his contract. He will have to prove he can lead the Bulls to the playoffs before a contract extension. LaVine changed representation recently and signed with Klutch Sports, which is usually the move for players who want to maximize their free agent potential. LaVine, 26, just coming off helping Team USA to the gold medal, will ask for a maximum contract in the open market. The Olympic experience may have enhanced LaVine’s value because he was asked to be a three-and-D player, sparking the Americans with his full-court defense and ability to run the floor. In the case that Bradley Beal decides to stay in Washington, LaVine could be the Celtics’ No. 1 target. The Bulls, who added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in the offseason, have full intentions to be a factor in the Eastern Conference .
In the case that Bradley Beal decides to stay in Washington, LaVine could be the Celtics’ No. 1 target. The Bulls, who added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in the offseason, have full intentions to be a factor in the Eastern Conference
Rob Schaefer: Zach LaVine on what he’s conveyed to Bulls about a potential extension. If Bulls decide to take route to cap space, pursuing upgrades through free agency or renegotiating + extending LaVine’s current contract are two options on table.

http://twitter.com/rob_schaef/status/1422157928094707712
The Sun-Times, as well as several other media outlets, reported at the start of the 2020-21 campaign that it was important for LaVine to be given max money moving forward. However, there are several sources who said that might not be the case any longer, as adding key role players around him could persuade LaVine to give the Bulls a slight discount.
"That's why them getting Vooch was a really big deal," an Eastern Conference executive said. "Players want to get paid, just like we all do. But they also want to win, and guys like Zach have been around the block long enough to know they can't win in this league by themselves. LeBron's the best to do it, and he couldn't win it all by himself. Even he needed help." The exec added, "Them getting Vooch sent a clear message to Zach that yes, Chicago is serious about trying to put together a winner here and now."
According to a source, LaVine is not only looking for All-Star respect, but financial respect when the time comes. The two sides could have inked a team-friendly three-year, $76-million deal before this season started, but moved on from it. What the organization has to ask themselves is do they want to commit $30-$35 million per year for a player that has elite scoring ability at the guard spot, but enough deficiencies in the rest of his game where he doesn’t translate into an alpha on a championship team?
Malika Andrews: It’s official: Zach LaVine inks his deal with the Bulls. pic.twitter.com/FHQfChnnux
Zach LaVine knows what you've been saying. He's got Twitter and Instagram, too. He knows you're hatin' on his defense, his choice of shots, his money; oh, so much of it with the reported $78 million/four-year contract offer from the Sacramento Kings which the Bulls Saturday matched to retain the restricted free agent. Zach says he's gotten flack like that before. And flown through it without a scratch. He will again, he promises. "People (are going) to put their own opinions on things, or everybody on social media, they try to judge you," LaVine told reporters Sunday night in Las Vegas in his first comments since the contract with the Bulls became official. "I'm my hardest critic. There's nothing that any of you (media) guys can say to me that I (don't) take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year. I'm used to people sleeping on me, and I'm also used to waking them up as well. I'm happy that I have this contract, and I'm happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don't believe in me. At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I'm going to show the city of Chicago it's a good choice and I'm here to stay. I'm going to be their guy, and I'm ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that (championship) spot."
Nick Friedell: Hoiberg on if Bulls have to mend relationship with LaVine after frustration he had to sign offer sheet with Kings. "Listen Zach's a great kid, he's a great teammate. We're going to move forward with the direction with this young group of guys that Zach's a huge part of obviously"
Sitting courtside at the Thomas & Mack Center before the Kings’ Las Vegas Summer League game against the Suns, Divac told the Tribune that LaVine, 23, has star potential that justified the lucrative offer and that he wasn’t concerned about a torn ACL that limited LaVine to 47 games with the Timberwolves in 2016-17 and 24 with the Bulls last season. “Zach is a very talented kid,” Divac said. “He works hard. I see him as one of the future elite shooting guards in this league. Before the injury, he showed a lot of progression. Now I believe he’s back where he was.”
The Bulls, who have two days to match it if they want to retain him, have made LaVine a contract offer, but sources say it's not nearly as strong as the Kings'. "I'm disappointed that I had to get an offer sheet from another team," LaVine, 23, told The Undefeated. "But Sacramento stepped up and made a strong impression. It appears that Sacramento wants me more than Chicago."
A source said LaVine will take up the remaining Kings salary cap space available if his signing becomes official, but the franchise will still have flexibility to make more free agency moves next summer. The Seattle native debuted with the Bulls last season after recovering from left ACL surgery. The Kings are confident that LaVine is fully healthy and recovered him his knee injury, a source said.
Shams Charania: RFA Zach LaVine has agreed to a four-year, $80M offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings, league sources tell Yahoo. The Chicago Bulls have 48 hours to match.
The Kings have been linked to restricted free agents such as Milwaukee's Jabari Parker and Chicago's Zach LaVine, but nothing has come of the speculation. The Kings have expressed a level of interest in both, a league source said, but a deal would require the Kings to reshape their roster that has a lot of young players they'd like to develop.
Adrian Wojnarowski: "The restricted free agent market is just decimated. I don't know where these guys are going to get their money. The one hope is Zach LaVine and Sacramento - they've been pretty serious about doing that and maybe he can get an offer sheet from them."
The Bulls absolutely want to re-sign LaVine and Nwaba — and on multiyear deals. But management also wants to do so on deals that make fiscal sense long term. It’s believed the Bulls’ preferred annual salary for LaVine is in the $14 million-$16 million range.

https://twitter.com/AlexKennedyNBA/status/1013255163300204544
Nick Friedell: From Bulls perspective on LaVine, 4 yrs for $60 mil has always felt like preferred number to them. At 23, nobody is sure what kind of player he'll become. If I'm the Bulls I'm not going too much higher than that because I'm still not convinced he's worth that big of an investment
Jason Jones: Couple of free agency notes on the Kings (as of now): *Priority is small forward, team sees Jabari Parker as a PF and not a good fit. *Love LaVine's talent, but would have to move Hield and/or Bogdanovic to make a serious run at him. *A stretch 4 would be ideal at some point
The Bulls, who are expected to offer LaVine a multiyear deal at an annual salary lower than he is seeking, would almost certainly match that. But the Kings could make additional moves to clear more cap space and come closer to the max deal of four years and roughly $108 million that a rival team can offer LaVine. Such an offer could give the Bulls pause.
Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports joined Chris Mannix on the Chris Mannix Show to begin discussing free agency and said the executives around the league largely expect the Magic to match any offer for Gordon — even a max offer sheet. “I think both teams are aware they need to go to max numbers for them,” Charania says about the impending free agency for Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. “But the question is will they make them go get a sheet. The sentiment I’ve gotten is if Zach LaVine goes and gets a max, we have too much invested in them. Same with Aaron Gordon.”
One dicey topic remains: the pending contract negotiations with soon-to-be restricted free agent Zach LaVine. And Paxson wasn’t in a position to clear things up. “Well, the market dictates a lot and how things go,’’ Paxson said. “I think the market has tightened up a little bit the last couple of years since the spike. We obviously value Zach a lot, and we think he’s a part of our future, but he has the opportunity to explore things. “Gar will get with his agent at the appropriate time and begin discussions about that, and it will play out the way it will play out. But we think he fits the direction we’re going, and we have great faith in his ability that he’ll have a great summer in terms of his work and his improvement as a player, and we’ll see. It’s up in the air and not defined yet, but we’ll do it the way we feel is right, and we’ll have good communication with Zach and his agent.’’
Paxson’s right about the situation not being “defined’’ publicly. Privately, things haven’t gotten contentious, but both sides have their feet firmly planted.
“I’m not stressed at all. Whatever the number is or terms they’re going to come to, it will happen. That’s why I have great agents. And we have respect, communication and understanding with the front office (so) we’ll let that work itself out. “I can’t let it get to me. It’s not going to. I have to prepare myself for next year and be ready to take on a bigger role and help the team get better.”
But does LaVine think he’s worth the max? “There are things you work for,” LaVine answered diplomatically. “Max players are top of the line. There are a lot of dudes in the NBA who haven’t been top of the line because of money situations or the cap is bigger or a weird offseason.
“You are what you’re worth. Obviously, you can’t say no to getting one. I see myself being an elite player in this league. I’m going to work for that every day until I get there.”
LaVine also won’t let himself feel rushed to cram a season’s worth of achievement into 29 games. He won’t necessarily be negotiating this summer from a position of strength in restricted free agency, but between his ongoing potential and established work habits, he believes business will take care of itself. Most likely right where he’s at in Chicago. “Whatever happens is going to happen. I have no fear in that,” LaVine said. “It’s unfortunate I had the injury. I was in a good spot in Minnesota, the team was picking it up at that time. But that’s part of the game – injuries happen – and one way or another, I’ll get a contract sooner or later. That doesn’t worry me at all. I know my play and my hard work and dedication will take care of that.
Nick Friedell: Zach LaVine reiterated that he expects to be a Bull for a long time. Confident he will get a deal done this summer.
KC Johnson: Zach LaVine said it’s “fine” he and Bulls didn’t reach rookie contract extension. “I know I’m going to be in black and red for a long time.”
Vincent Goodwill: On taking contact: "It's been here and there."
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June 27, 2022 | 10:24 am EDT Update
Sam Amick: Is the relationship between Irving and the Nets too far gone at this point, or is this just a case of tough negotiations? How does Durant see the Nets organization at the moment, not only in regards to the Irving situation but the James Harden mess that came before it as well? As for the Knicks, Alex, I’m also told from folks who would know that the (Brunson-focused) franchise has no real interest in Irving at the moment and fully expect him to return to Brooklyn on the contract of his choosing. As for the Clippers, I think they’re in wait-and-see mode (like a lot of teams right now) and trying to get a better understanding of all the dynamics at play here. We’ll know a whole lot more by week’s end.
Joe Vardon: Durant, meanwhile, is a different situation. He has four years left on his contract, starting at $43 million this year. At that big of a number, the return on such a trade would be so lucrative for Brooklyn that it would likely be able to turn around whatever “rebuild” it was undertaking very quickly. To your point, Alex, Tsai and Marks recognize this, and it’s working into their math. All of the grumbling about Durant considering his options … well, he doesn’t really have any. I mean, like other NBA stars, Durant could force his team to trade him, but when, where and for whom is totally up to the Nets. And league rules regarding trades being what they are, they would get a huge return for one of the very best players in the sport.
Alex Schiffer: Marks has said before that he consults Irving and Durant on some of the organization’s major decisions and said as recently as May that Durant wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happens. So I would think he’s had a heads up to all of this even if he doesn’t like it. As for a Durant return, I asked a league source a few days ago about such a deal and the reply was, “Look up the Anthony Davis trade to the Lakers and start there.”
Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo each have team options, both of which have to be decided on by Tuesday. Diallo has a $5.2 million team option and, per sources, the Pistons are expected to pick his up. As for Jackson, sources tell The Athletic the Pistons are not expected to pick up his $3.1 million option. If Detroit does, it could be to execute a trade. All in all, though, I don’t anticipate Jackson being on this team next season. Then there’s the decision to bring back Marvin Bagley III, who was acquired from the Kings around the trade deadline and is a restricted free agent. Every inclination that I’ve received is that the Pistons have every intention of bringing back Bagley, who has a $28 million cap hold.
With those moves in mind, Detroit will need to add five to six players via free agency or trade to round out the roster. As I reported last week, even with room to sign a player to a max contract, the Pistons are unlikely to throw max offers at the likes of restricted free agents Deandre Ayton and Miles Bridges, though things can change. Instead, signs point to Detroit looking to add quality, veteran role players to pair with its young core as it furthers this rebuild. Maintaining financial flexibility moving forward is still important to the franchise, per sources, with the 2023 free agency class expected to be far better-stocked than this year’s group. On the trade front, Detroit could elect to use its cap space to acquire undesirable contracts and picks, adding potential rotational players that way.