Any fan within a 200 mile radius of Chicago is probably sick of hearing about Zach LaVine’s contract situation. But, until pen is put to paper, the conversation isn’t going anywhere … and Media Day reminded us of that.
On Monday, the second question that came Arturas Karnisovas’ way was about his All-Star guard. And, rather than leave any room for skepticism, he fired back with a declarative response.
“The one thing that we know is that we’re committed to Zach,” Karnisovas told reporters. “We want him to be in Chicago for a very long time. I think trade deadline and free agency moves kind of proved that. He has a great relationship with Billy, a good relationship with me. I can’t wait to see how the players we added to the team work together and gel. We feel really good about Zach and the season.
I’m not sure there were many concerns about where the Bulls stood on the LaVine matter, but if there were, Karnisovas made things pretty clear. LaVine is a part of the franchise’s future, and while it’s fair to point out that Karnisovas once called a guy like Markkanen an “essential” piece, he didn’t back that up with aggressive actions.
For LaVine, Karnisovas can point to specific evidence that the franchise is determined to win with him in town, and he did so by mentioning the bold trade deadline and free agency acquisitions. Every move was an indirect investment in LaVine’s ascent toward stardom, one that was likely made with the expectation that he will re-sign in the summer of 2022 (Michael: The expectation, yes, but also, perhaps, an incentive).
Meanwhile, LaVine has been nothing but consistent with his side of the story. Despite national attention and other front office’s crossing their fingers, he has made it obvious that he backs the route the organization chose this offseason. He went on to do this again on Monday, emphasizing his focus lies nowhere other than on the Bulls.
“I’m not worried about my contract right now,” LaVine said. “That will be a point in time when, in the future, my agent and I will sit down and discuss, and we’ll go from there. But right now it’s about the Bulls and getting better tomorrow.”
Karnisovas’ comments and actions also did not go unnoticed, which is arguably the most important thing when it comes to keeping LaVine in town long-term. Not only must the 26-year-old understand the vision his new front office is trying to build, but he has to have faith they can pull it off.
So far, things sound pretty good on that front.
“It means a lot coming from him,” LaVine said when asked about Karnisovas’ comments. “I think you guys know I’m a team-first guy. I’m excited with all the moves that were made, and I really look forward to getting into camp and getting to know these guys and get the season started, because we all have a lot to prove. Even from a team point, I’m excited to get this seasons started. That means a lot from them.”
Yeah, but how excited is he?
“Obviously, every year you get in the league is an accomplishment. You go in there and don’t take it for granted. But this is the most excited I’ve been, especially with the talent and the team we have here. The support they have given me, I’m extremely happy about that. I’m ready to hit the ground running, and go out there and just get it going because there is an excitement around the city, but there is a bigger excitement around the team as well because we know we can do something.”
Works for me!
Now, can we go a whole week without writing about LaVine’s impending free agency? Stay tuned to find out!
Check out the full Zach LaVine interview from Media Day below.
LIVE: Chicago Bulls Media Day – Zach LaVine https://t.co/QJaPsUcbtW
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) September 27, 2021