You Got to At Least Respect Zach LaVine's Continued Commitment to Chicago

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You’ve Got to At Least Respect Zach LaVine’s Unwavering Commitment to Chicago

Chicago Bulls

The door has opened many times for Zach LaVine to question the Chicago Bulls.

Whether it be the previous regime forcing him to sign via restricted free-agency, playing way too many games under Jim Boylen, or even getting benched in a loss by his head coach earlier this season, LaVine has been given a handful of reasons to bite back. Yet, all he’s done since coming over from the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017 is bite his tongue.

Particularly in a league now dominated by player movement and player decision-making, LaVine’s commitment to the Chicago Bulls has been relatively shocking. I mean, seriously, this is an era where players like Furkan Korkmaz and Jae Crowder are demanding trades. The fact that someone with LaVine’s elite skillset has – for the most part – stayed out of the drama is certainly admirable.

Sure, I know that the Bulls having the option to pay him more than any other team this past summer likely had a significant role in his decision to stay. But why wouldn’t it? You can’t blame a guy for prioritizing that kind of generational wealth. And, as we said, it’s not like he didn’t stick through years of crap before signing that deal. LaVine has always remained publically dedicated to the Bulls, and this hasn’t changed even in a season where losses have stacked up and trade rumors have swirled.

I signed here to be here for five years,” LaVine told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson in an exclusive one-on-one interview. “It’s not up to me if I’m here or not. That’s for people above my role. But the franchise committed to me the same way I committed to them. As long as I have a Bulls jersey on, I support Chicago. I always have ever since I got traded here. It’s a franchise that wanted me and has helped my career out. You understand the position you’re in—the first year of a contract that people put a label on for some reason. I’m the same player since I came here. That contract didn’t change me.

Not only have there been reports about LaVine not seeing eye-to-eye with the franchise this year, but there have also been rumors about the Bulls weighing his trade value around the league. Most recently, we even talked about how all this fuss could carry into the offseason, possibly leading to a LaVine trade ahead of free agency.

If one thing seems clear, though, those possibilities aren’t going to be fueled by LaVine himself. While that could be all about saving face as his agency puts real pressure on the franchise behind the scenes, he hasn’t given us many reasons not to take him at his word. As we said, all he’s done is stay committed to his contract and what the Bulls are building. And this still seems to be his mindset as the Bulls’ front office assesses another roster shuffle.

“We’ve been together for what, a year-and-a-half now? We see what we did last year and where we’re at this year,” LaVine told Johnson when asked about the Big 3’s fit. “I think everything is up for evaluation. But I think you can say that about a lot of teams, a lot of “Big Threes,” a lot of players. I know this: I love my teammates. I love Vooch. I love DeMar. Relationship-wise, we’re all perfectly fine. We just have to win games to be looked at as that (a championship contender).”

Again, I was rather shocked by the honesty of this response. While LaVine expressed confidence in his current teammates, he also voiced a legitimate understanding of the potential changes Arturas Karnisovas separately alluded to. And, when we combine this with what he said above, it seems to suggest that LaVine expects to be a part of whatever those changes turn out to be.

Does that mean he actually will be or should be? Who the heck knows. But I do respect him for consistently saying the right things and stressing that he wants to wear a Bulls uniform. In today’s league, it’s not as common as it should be.

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.