The Bulls Are Reportedly Split on Giving Zach LaVine the Max

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The Bulls Are Reportedly Split on Giving Zach LaVine the Max

Chicago Bulls

Another day, another Zach LaVine rumor. Today it was ESPN and NBC Sports Chicago host David Kaplan offering up a nugget of insight on the Bulls’ internal view of Zach LaVine, as they prepare to decide whether or not they’ll offer him a max contract extension this summer.

On this morning’s episode of Kap & J-Hood, Kaplan had this to offer up as far as the feelings around the organization are concerned:

“There are some in the organization that want to give him [LaVine] the max; there are others that feel like he does not have the ‘dog’ mentality it takes to win big. Solid player, good ball handler, good facilitator … solid player, great guy. Is he going to truly kill you when the game is on the line? Like Michael [Jordan] would kill his family to win. Kobe, may he Rest In Peace, same deal. Some believe that Kevin Durant is a killer. Steph Curry is a killer.”

Is this just the next step in the leverage battle between the Bulls and LaVine’s agency, Klutch? It’s certainly possible. You always have to consider the reason these sort of rumors escape out into the public. And so far, all the leverage has been leaning LaVine’s way, with rumors of other interested teams, his distaste for playing second-fiddle to DeMar DeRozan (though we never bought that particular), and his apparent love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Of course, the Arturas Karnisovas administration has been famously tightlipped since taking over the Bulls front office. And it would be risky to push back too hard publicly, in case one attempt to even the scales actually drives LaVine away. But again, it’s important to remember that no one can offer LaVine as much money as the Bulls ($212 million over five seasons).

I’ve seen and heard it all the past few weeks. Some want Zach here on the max. Some wouldn’t mind seeing him dealt in a sign and trade (no matter how difficult it is to get fair value). Some have said to just let him walk. The latter isn’t happening. The Bulls would use their bird rights to extend beyond the salary cap limitations to sign LaVine to the max extension. They won’t have a max slot to sign another free agent to replace him, so you can forget about that.

That leaves the Bulls and LaVine with two options, A) Zach signs the max, and everyone is a happy family in Chicago, or B) Zach wants out, and the Bulls work out a sign and trade with another team, a deal in which it will be doubtful to receive fair value for a number of reasons. The only happy ending for the Bulls is if Zach decides to stay in Chicago and his knee issues are behind him.

Michael Cerami contributed to this post.

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.