For Zach LaVine, putting pen to paper sounds like only a matter of time.
The Chicago Bulls All-Star sat down with NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer for an exclusive interview at Team USA Training Camp to discuss, among many important topics (all of which are worth your time), LaVine’s contract situation.
LaVine is technically able to reach an extension before unrestricted free agency hits in 2022. However, if the Bulls want to hand him the kind of max-money LaVine could earn in 2022 (the kind it would take for him to stick around), they would first have to renegotiate the final year of his contract. Doing so, however, would eat into the organization’s already limited cap space, thus hurting any flexibility the organization might have to immediately improve the team via free agency/trade this offseason (which, in a frustrating bit of irony could make LaVine less willing to stick around).
The alternative, of course, would be to wait until the next offseason. The organization could run the risk of LaVine sniffing around the open market, but they would at least have his Bird Rights as a security blanket (meaning they could offer him more money than any other franchise).
LaVine recognized the complicated situation at hand in his conversation with Schaefer. He also seemed to say that no matter the direction, he plans to remain in red and white.
With me, I try to let my agent handle everything. But as long as it gets done, I’ll be happy. Obviously, I want to be with the Bulls, and you don’t want to implicate free agency, and I understand, like the cap room that goes into it with a sizable extension with me. So, I want the team to be good, but then I also want to be taken care of as well. I feel like I’ve done really well by the Bulls, and obviously I want to be here long-term, and I feel like I deserve what I get. So, it is what it is. We’ll figure [it] out when that comes. If it’s this year or next year, we’ll just see what happens.
I think I understand where I’m at as a player and what I deserve, and I think the Bulls do as well. It just depends on when we want to do it.
These comments continue a long display of loyalty to his franchise. In his previous zoom conversation with reporters at Team USA Training Camp, LaVine also that he felt everything would “play out the right way.” The logical question after that discussion was what exactly LaVine considered to be the “right way.”
Well, according to this, it’s simply getting a deal done – whether that be in 2021 or 2022.
LaVine’s public commitment and apparent flexibility sure seem like good news for Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley.
While securing the asset this summer is likely on the table, it must also be nice to know they can evaluate their options and determine how to proceed without feeling too uneasy about where LaVine stands. Of course, any move that heads into next season without a piping hot contract completed puts LaVine’s future somewhat in doubt. But if that move makes the team immediately better and pushes them into a playoff spot, it should run no risk of changing LaVine’s mind.
What also seems to be working in the organization’s favor (regardless of what happens this summer) is the long-term commitment to head coach Billy Donovan. Schaefer asked LaVine about this newfound sense of stability as he heads into Year 2 under the new Bulls regime.
More specifically, he focused on LaVine’s early relationship with Donovan, and the 26-year-old had quite the rave review.
It’s been big, man. Probably one of the only coaches I’ve really bonded with, and he really cares about his players. I haven’t been able to have that type of relationship with a coach — obviously, with inconsistencies and different things like that – but being able to talk to him on a daily basis, being able to call him, talk to him about game film or things I want to improve on, or the structure of the team, things like that, just day-to-day things that a player and their coach can talk about, I haven’t had, and that relationship has been big for me. So I’m looking to continue and grow our relationship. It’s been great so far, and Billy’s a hell of a coach.
Some may have questions about the Donovan hire, particularly his ability to flip a losing team around at the NBA level. I get that. When he entered the league, he was handed Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. The one year he coached without any on the roster in Oklahoma City … he had Chris Paul. But if LaVine can comfortably say Donovan is one of the only coaches he has ever bonded with, then I think it only improves the quality of the hire.
Like LaVine, all we can do is wait. Karnisovas and Co. will likely be knee-deep in files on second-round prospects until July 29th, so after that I expect we begin to receive a much more clear idea of which path this franchise will choose for their young star.
Make sure to read NBC Sports Chicago’s full Q&A with LaVine below:
From training for the Olympics, to looming extension talks, to a critical season ahead for Bulls, Zach LaVine has a lot going on.
We sat down to talk about that and more earlier this week in Vegas. Conversation available in Bulls Talk Pod feed as well:https://t.co/o3Ub6V3hwE
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) July 16, 2021
And, if you’re on the move, you can listen to it here:
New Bulls Talk Pod: Zach LaVine joins @rob_schaef in Las Vegas to discuss:
• Training with the USA Men's National Team and the upcoming Olympics
• Patrick Williams' Select Team performance
• Extension talks and other Bulls offseason storylines
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) July 16, 2021