Franchise players always have a say, and Zach LaVine is no exception.
According to the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, the Chicago Bulls All-Star played a major role in the Bulls wild trip through free agency that unraveled earlier this week.
According to a source, the Bulls guard was in constant contact with not only his front office with the start of free agency, but with several of the targeted players the Bulls had been in discussions with, all the while working with Team USA from the Olympics in Tokyo.
While the moves themselves may have made our jaw drop, I don’t think anyone is shocked to hear LaVine pulled some strings behind the scenes. Not only did it become clear at the trade deadline that this front office viewed him as a player worth building around, but LaVine told reporters only a couple of days ago that he has been in touch with the boys upstairs.
“I should have a good idea what’s going on,” LaVine told reporters (h/t NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer). “I take that very serious, keep up to date with what’s going on back home, but obviously still get my rest cause we got a game tomorrow. One way or another I’ll find out.”
While we’ll never know what conversations LaVine had, nor the direction he gave, his involvement speaks volumes to his current standing inside the organization and his devotion to the franchise. His voice matters and the Bulls made sure he knew that this summer.
Additionally, Stadium’s Shams Charania seemed to confirm LaVine’s happiness with the way things played out this morning on ESPN 1000’s Carmen & Jurko.
Zach LaVine, he was a guy who was supportive, especially of getting DeMar DeRozan on this team and wanting to make sure this team was making the right strides toward playoff contention entering this upcoming year.
Charania went on to say that LaVine’s desire is to remain in Chicago.
Of course, not reaching an extension this offseason (which would have required the team to use salary-cap space to renegotiate the final year of LaVine’s deal) is going to stir up speculation around the league regarding LaVine’s future. However, these reports of LaVine’s participation and satisfaction should tell us that everyone was on the same page about pursuing immediate roster upgrades this summer. If LaVine demanded to be paid behind the scenes instead, I have to imagine we would have seen the front office go that route.
LaVine himself also mentioned free agency as something that could have a direct impact on extension talks multiple times. In a one-on-one conversation with NBC Sports Chicago’s Rob Schaefer, LaVine said that while he wants to be taken care of, he also “wanted the team to be good.” Likewise, when speaking to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst before free agency during a media zoom call in Tokyo, LaVine said the following:
“I think free agency is going to play a big part in that [contract talks] with other players and reconstructing the roster, but me, AK, and Marc all talk, and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like the guy who knew some big additions could be on the way. Maybe if those fell through, we see the two sides work out an extension. The fact of the matter, however, is that the deals were made. LaVine and the organization can now revisit contract talks next summer, where the organization will be able to offer more money than any other team.