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.
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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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June 25, 2018 | 9:45 am EDT Update
While James hasn’t decided yet whether to pick up his player option, sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams. James might meet or speak with a club official or owner at some point, but the elaborate presentations that have become common in NBA free agency over the years are unnecessary after 15 seasons in the league.
Should James become a free agent, league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.
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