Friday was a weird day.
On one hand, I couldn’t have been more relieved to see the news of Zach LaVine’s max contract light up my phone. While I know things were always trending in that direction, the NBA is as unpredictable as any sports league in the world. A tiny bit of doubt still lurked in my brain, so I fully enjoyed the dopamine rush that evaporating it once and for all.
And, of course, it’s truly exciting to have a player of LaVine’s caliber officially tied to the franchise for the long-haul. He’s one of the NBA’s elite scorers who has continued to show progress every year he takes the floor. Just entering his prime at 27 years old, the Bulls are in line to get the best basketball of his career, which is why it was crucial they got that deal done.
On the other hand, the Bulls still haven’t added anything of substance to this roster. As much as Arturas Karnisovas has preached continuity over the past few months, I didn’t expect him to take things this literally. The Bulls had glaring holes when it came to depth in the rim-protection and shooting department this season. And the front office named both as areas they hoped to improve leading up to free agency.
Could an unexpected trade be up their sleeve? Yes, which is why I’m holding back too much judgment for now. But the more days that pass without roster changes, the more worried I get about the same problems showing up next year. Oh, and about this ownership still refusing to spend the money needed to build a true contender.
- Ok, let’s go back to the bright side! After a stress-inducing final press conference and a lot of Klutch-driven drama, Zach LaVine made sure to let Bulls fans know how happy he was to stay in Chicago. First came his awesome Instagram announcement (which you can see here), and then a nice quick interview with NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson.
“Chicago is my home,” LaVine told the long-time Bulls beat reporter. “I really started making my name here. And I want to continue what I helped start here as well.
- I’m not going to lie, I’m a big fat sucker for moments like this. It’s always heartwarming to see a player give love back to a city. And while I understand money is likely a big part of the decision-making process, I do genuinely believe LaVine when he says this feels like home. He became the special talent he is today in Chicago, and I expect winning will mean that much more in a Bulls jersey.
- Also, despite all the previous hoopla, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley has reported that LaVine basically knew he wanted to stay in Chicago from the jump:
One source said LaVine was so adamant about re-signing with the Bulls going into the offseason that he initially didn’t even want to go through the formality of taking a meeting with them. He only wanted to hear what other organizations were offering.
Klutch Sports, however, wanted LaVine to get the full free-agent experience before making his intentions known. He did just that.
- Cowley reported that LaVine did take other meetings, which is likely why we saw his decision delayed until Friday morning. But I think it’s fair to say those meetings were brief and mostly a formality. I understand Klutch wanting him to survey his options, and I understand LaVine wanting to experience unrestricted free agency to the fullest (it’s not an opportunity that comes around often). But it appears no one was going to change his mind.
- While I’m still concerned about ownership refusing to enter the luxury tax, thank god they finally stepped up and paid top dollar. If you want a star, you have to pay that star. Simple as that.
- If the Bulls do decide to continue spending their MLE, there are at least a couple of interesting names who could provide the kind of depth they need. Take a look:
- T.J. Warren could be an extremely worthwhile buy-low talent. The 28-year-old shot 40 percent from behind the arc over his previous two seasons played, and he would undoubtedly add a level of toughness to this roster. With that said, the fact he hasn’t signed with anyone yet has me worried about what others are hearing about his current health. Warren has missed basically the previous two seasons with a nasty foot injury. If he’s still experiencing discomfort, the Bulls likely don’t want to risk handing him a roster spot on a team that already had so many injury problems last year.
- Caleb and Cody Martin are the other two players I’d love to see the Bulls throw an offer at. Both solid wing defenders, Cody could provide the kind of playmaking/passing this front office likes, while Caleb could offer some reliable 3-point shooting.
- We’ll get our first look at Dalen Terry later this week!
- The Bulls legend’s all-time fleece of the Lakers has finally ended.
- Old friend stays in Boston.
- … oof