While pen has not been put to paper on a fresh Zach LaVine contract yet, it feels like only a matter of time.
Whether it be LaVine’s role in recruiting talent to Chicago, his direct comments about staying with the organization, or Arturas Karnisovas’ clear commitment to LaVine at Media Day, all signs have pointed to a continued union between these two parties. And now NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson has practically said as much in a recent episode of the HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto.
“I would just say that every indication I’ve been given both internally from his side and internally from the organization is this is a match made to move forward together,” Johnson said. “I don’t think you expend the draft capital this regime has doled out in the Vucevic trade and the DeRozan acquisition without doing everything in your power to appease your No. 1 player and also to try and win now. We also obviously know the Bulls have the ability to pay him more than any other franchise.”
Now … it’s a long season. The fact of the matter is that LaVine is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he will have the right to investigate other offers. We all know how fast things can change in the NBA, which is why the Bulls building a sustainable winning product this season can be considered rather crucial.
The good news, however, is that this front office seems to recognize that. The right moves have been made to drastically improve the roster and show LaVine this franchise is headed in the right direction. It might be early, but success on the court has also already followed, as the organization is off to its first 4-0 start since the 1996 season.
“There are a million reasons why I think he’s going to be here long-term,” Johnson went on to say. “He has really embraced being the face of the franchise ever since the Jimmy Butler trade, even when they were bad. He’s always been front and center as the star of the team, always available media-wise, he’s a good representative of the franchise, he loves living in Chicago, he loves the history and legacy of the franchise. I personally have always felt this was headed for a long-term extension.”
Commitment can always run out, especially if the money and wins do not follow. But I do think this has been an under-valued point in this lingering LaVine discussion.
The All-Star has never done anything other than represent this franchise with a smile on his face, even while fans literally chanted for his bosses to be fired live on ESPN. He clearly has a warm place in his heart for the city of Chicago and the Bulls organization. The devotion to making things work and returning the franchise to national prominence seems to be there, and I think his emotional decision would be to wrap this city in a bear hug long-term.
Still, more important than the emotional ties are the points we touched on above. The direct actions of this front office and LaVine so far have made it feel like there is nothing to worry about when it comes to a new contract, and I suspect things stay that way until next summer.
For a complete look at the HoopsHype Podcast, check out the link below:
A look at Zach LaVine’s free agent future, Lonzo Ball’s development, DeMar DeRozan’s fit, Coby White’s return timeline, Billy Donovan’s chances to win Coach of the Year, and more with @KCJHoop on the @hoopshype podcast. https://t.co/Rb3kJbTHvE
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) October 27, 2021