League Skepticism Reportedly Remains Around Zach LaVine's Future

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Is Zach LaVine Long for Chicago? Rival Executives Are Reportedly Skeptical

Chicago Bulls

Maximum money can often lead to maximum rumors, and Zach LaVine learned that right away.

No Bulls player has seen himself thrown into more trade speculation over the past year than LaVine. The Chicago Bulls inked the high-flying scoring guard to a five-year, $215 million deal last summer – only for the team to go 40-42 and miss the playoffs one year after finishing as a No. 6 seed. The disappointing campaign, unsurprisingly, led to a fair share of mid-season reports about locker room tension and potential trade deadline blockbusters. And those reports aren’t going anywhere.

NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson recently emphasized the amount of intrigue opposing teams have about the Bulls’ offseason plans. They were apparently a hot topic at the Draft Combine with many still eager to see if they’ll put their big names on the trading block. Johnson elaborated on this in his most recent mailbag, sharing that LaVine’s future has garnered particular interest around the league.

“But several rival executives who NBC Sports Chicago talked to at the combine are skeptical about the long-term marriage between Zach LaVine and the Bulls …

Again, the Bulls publicly have backed LaVine at every opportunity so believe that for now over rival executives’ speculation. But that speculation is prevalent enough to acknowledge.”

Make sure to read Johnson’s full mailbag here.

First things first, no one should be surprised that executives are seemingly interested in LaVine. He’s the team’s best player and, as we noted above, has already been at the center of several rumors. But the more we continue to read statements like these, the more it feels like LaVine’s future is genuinely in question.

Arturas Karnisovas can back LaVine all he wants. He backed Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen before both were traded, as well. I understand that this situation is a bit different when we consider the huge payday he gave the two-time All-Star, but executives are almost always playing a game.

Could he still see a future with LaVine at the center? Absolutely. I’d go as far as to say it’s still more likely than not right now. But would he say if that wasn’t the case? Of course not! His goal is to make LaVine look as attractive as possible, which is why executives often pretend that they’re in love with every single one of their players.

So what Karnisovas is saying is a bit less important to me than what numerous executives across the league are saying. If an increasing amount believes that the Bulls could be open to having conversations about LaVine … well … where there’s smoke there is often fire.

I guess the whole point here is that I don’t believe this will be the only time LaVine’s name is brought up as part of the offseason chaos. This speculation could turn into some full-blown rumors as the NBA Draft nears, especially with teams like Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks supposedly having lottery picks up for grabs.

Again, I don’t currently think we see a LaVine trade in the coming months. I still believe Nikola Vucevic or DeMar DeRozan is more likely to find a new home. But I’m also not going to deny that my feelings could change, particularly if comments like these keep popping up.

Author: Elias Schuster

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