Convincing Zach LaVine the Bulls are building a playoff contender is important when you consider the 26-year-old’s “big focus” coming into the season was to get Chicago into the playoffs. That’s why rival executives anticipate the Bulls will try to lock up LaVine with a contract extension (he will make $19.5 million this season and next) but know he’ll likely let his deal lapse, become an unrestricted free agent and sign what will be a more lucrative multiyear max pact.
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“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.”
Rob Schaefer: Asked by @CodyWesterlund if Vucevic trade makes him more likely to re-sign with Bulls long-term, Zach LaVine said: “I want to stay in Chicago. I haven’t had anything of wanting to leave. When that time comes, obviously I’ll try to do the best I can to stay here...
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 LaVine deal: “I think we’re all very excited about Zach coming back as a Bull and being here long-term.”
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”
Zach LaVine: So excited to continue my career with the Bulls! Can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers in front of the greatest fans in the world!! I’m grateful to be able to call Chicago home. Now let’s get this going! #BullsNation
KC Johnson: Bulls make it official, match LaVine offer sheet. John Paxson: “We were excited last summer when we got a dynamic athlete in Zach LaVine through the trade, and we’re excited now that we get to keep him.”
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.”
KC Johnson: Can confirm @Adrian Wojnarowski report that offer sheet has language protecting team against LaVine’s surgically repaired left knee, per source. Bulls would’ve matched anyway but team-friendly clause beneficial.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Bulls have decided to match Sacramento’s $78M offer sheet to Zach LaVine, league sources tell ESPN.
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.
Sean Cunningham: Source confirms Sacramento Kings have signed Zach LaVine to an offer sheet of 4 years for $78 million. LaVine visited team in Sacramento, told his health checks out fine. @Marc J. Spears first to report. Bulls 48 hours to match.
Michael Scotto: Zach LaVine’s four-year, $80 million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings is fully guaranteed with no options, a league source told The Athletic.
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.
Vincent Goodwill: The Atlanta Hawks are one of the team’s showing interest in RFA Zach LaVine, according to sources
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
As of Thursday, the Kings were poised to own roughly $18.7 million of salary-cap space when the NBA’s new fiscal calendar begins. If they choose to go the LaVine route, that would mean a four-year offer worth roughly $80 million, which the Bulls would have 72 hours to match.
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.
Vincent Goodwill: The Bulls have officially sent qualifying offers to Zach LaVine in addition to David Nwaba and Ryan Arcidiacono, making them restricted free agents
Nick Friedell: Bulls may still lock up restricted free agent Zach LaVine this summer — but as an organization the near universal support LaVine once had internally isn’t there anymore. Bulls will wait to see if he can find big $$$ elsewhere first and then decide if they want to match.
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.”
KC Johnson: Re LaVine: As long as he returns without issue from injury, as all expect, Bulls will re-sign him next summer. He’s centerpiece of rebuild.
SI: With all the money that has been thrown around, does that kind of plant the seed of when you become a restricted free agent in 2018? Zach LaVine: “Hey man, at the end of the day, we work hard and this is how we make our living. We go in the gym and whatever we get its going to be respectable, but you definitely look forward to all that stuff and see your hard work pay off.”
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May 8, 2021 | 8:54 pm EDT Update
Fred Katz: There it is. Russell Westbrook has officially tied Oscar Robertson’s all-time triple-double record of 181 for a career, a record that has stood for 47 years. Westbrook now has 21 triple-doubles in his last 25 games and will go for the record Monday against the Hawks.
Russell Westbrook is making history every other day at this point and Saturday night was no exception. The Wizards’ point guard earned his 7,988th assist against the Pacers, passing former Wizards point guard Rod Strickland for 12th all-time on the NBA’s career assists list.
Tom Orsborn: Pop on Carmelo: “He loves the game. He’s having a great year doing a great job. He has been wonderful throughout his career. Anything that’s good that happens for him, I’m very excited about it, because he has done a lot.”