If you ask Dallas Mavericks’ guard Tim Hardaway Jr., he’ll tell you the Bulls are back. If you look at what Bulls Nation has to say in the Twitterverse, they’ll inform you the Bulls are back. If you read Jamal Collier’s latest work at ESPN, it’ll show the Bulls are back.
Collier’s article is jam packed with insight on Chicago’s red-hot 8-3 start. The players discuss everything from taking the court with their new teammates to the work put in behind the scenes over the past couple of months. And it doesn’t take long for the team’s star player, Zach LaVine, to rave about the energy inside the locker room, as well as the addition of a much-needed point guard in Lonzo Ball. We’ve talked about the Bulls’ need for a true point guard for years on end. Heck, probably since Derrick Rose departed Chicago. With Ball in town on a long-term deal, the Bulls have a gifted athlete with a high motor and a playmaking IQ that his teammates believe is through the roof. Oh, and he’s turned into a pretty good shooter, too!
More importantly, however, Collier included some nuggets on the long-term outlook for LaVine, who we all know is an unrestricted free agent following this season:
The Bulls’ flurry of offseason moves to improve their team prevented them from having space to offer LaVine a long-term contract extension before the season began. LaVine, 26, was clear during the summer he believed he had outplayed his last contract and “wanted his respect” for the next one. With one season left on his deal at $19.5 million, LaVine can become an unrestricted free agent this summer and would be, perhaps, the best player on the market.
However, LaVine has reiterated often during his five-year Bulls’ career how badly he wants to win. This is the first time Chicago has surrounded him with the talent ready to do so.
“I think the main thing, I’m going to play this year out and just have extremely fun with it,” LaVine said. “Contract-wise, I’ll let my agent handle it. Obviously, I want to be here. We have a really good team. … But as of right now, I’m extremely happy where I’m at and I want to help this team win.”
I think the key takeaway here is that LaVine wants to win, and now he has the chance to win in Chicago with the pieces currently in place. You have to imagine that AKME will continue their calculated aggression in adding whatever this team needs to be a true contender for an NBA Finals run sooner than later. Sure, the Bulls will have to break open the checkbook and give LaVine a max deal this summer to keep him here, but I’m confident they’re ready to do just that. And why wouldn’t they be? LaVine has earned every penny that has come his way during his time in Chicago, and he has only continued his rise up the league ranks to start this season.
I would also be remiss not to single out LaVine’s specific wording: “Obviously, I want to be here.” His desire to stay in the Windy City is not particularly in question, nor has it been since the contract conversations started. But it has been fair in the past to wonder whether or not staying in Chicago was in LaVine’s best interest. The organization was among the league’s worst for the majority of his tenure, and if the team came out of the gate as slow as they have the past few seasons, speculation would be totally fair. The good news, however, is they haven’t. A new front office recognized the moves that needed to be made to maximize LaVine’s prime. Combine the success we have already seen come from their roster adjustment with LaVine’s clear desire to remain in this market, and it’s hard not to see a long marriage between the two.
Anyway, there are a bunch of other awesome tidbits in Collier’s story, and I couldn’t encourage you to give it a read below. I can’t remember the last time we have had such a positive read!
Wrote about the Bulls, tied for the best record in the East and maybe the most fun team in the league right now https://t.co/irfJxsfe11
— Jamal Collier (@JamalCollier) November 12, 2021
Elias Schuster contributed to this post.