After an impressive first half of the 2021-22 season, the Chicago Bulls have established themselves as a powerhouse. Zach LaVine sits as a significant part of the transformation of pushing the franchise toward NBA title contention.
LaVine is in the final year of his deal in line up to hit free agency. Although that sits months away, the star guard provided the Bulls with a stern reminder about what may lie ahead.
Bulls are pushing toward possible NBA title contention
After a busy offseason, the Bulls have quickly proven to be the real deal.
Injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso took some wind out of their sails, but Chicago remains firmly in the mix to secure the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed.
DeMar DeRozan is leading the charge with an MVP-caliber campaign, averaging 28.1 points while shooting 51.7% from the floor and a career-high 34.3% from three-point range. The now five-time All-Star recently broke Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time mark with seven straight games with at least 35 points on 50% or better shooting.
DeRozan is on an absolute offensive tear, notching three 40-point games and 11 30-point outings over his previous 15 appearances. As the Bulls push their way toward possible NBA title contention, LaVine just gave the franchise a friendly reminder regarding the order of business that lies ahead next summer.
Zach Lavine delivers a $200 million message to the Bulls
Over the last couple of seasons, Zach LaVine has solidified himself as one of the league’s rising stars.
As the Bulls move through a promising 2021-22 campaign, his imminent free agency next summer has become a lingering cloud. LaVine added to the dialogue by stating that he feels like he will get what he deserves in free agency.
“I think we all get what we deserve at the level we play at, for our team and around the league. I think I stack up with everybody at that level,” he said. “We’ll let the chips fall. Is the [max] the goal? I don’t know if it’s the goal, but I should be getting what I deserve.
“I’ll let them tell me what that is and we’ll go from there.”
With the Bulls showcasing potential NBA title contention, the free agency pitch to LaVine should be simple. The franchise can sweeten its case by offering a max five-year contract worth north of $200 million that could be much more if he makes an All-NBA team. The most another team can present is a four-year, $160 million deal.
The 26-year-old has far outplayed his four-year, $78 million deal by establishing himself as one of the game’s top young talents behind back-to-back All-Star game selections. The nagging injuries aside, LaVine holds a bright future ahead, and the Bulls would be foolish not to offer him a significant pay raise.
He is only a year removed from ACL surgery, but he’s brushed aside doubt he would return to playing at a high level. He’s averaging 24.6 points while shooting 48.8% from the floor and 39.9% from beyond the arc.
Whether he’s worth a max contract remains undetermined, but it may take that to keep him. Chicago holds no reason to play around and must take care of business to keep their young star.
Re-signing Zach LaVine will set off a massive positive ripple effect
The Bulls’ top priority next offseason will center on re-signing Zach LaVine.
The game plan falls directly in line with what the front office has recently accomplished. Chicago first acquired Nikola Vucevic then followed it with an offseason headlined by signing DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso.
The Bulls now possess a strong mixture of talent that only suggests a promising future ahead. Beyond that, keeping LaVine will serve as another reason for players to join to help elevate the franchise to NBA title contention.
Chicago must make a massive financial commitment, but the potential positive long-term impact will make it well worth the risk.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.