The Chicago Bulls didn’t have the end result of the 2021-2022 season they were looking for. While they did make the playoffs and had their best record in years, getting brushed aside by Milwaukee in five games wasn’t what they had in mind. That is why hopes are high that the team can come back together next season with everybody healthy, and they can make a true go of it in 2022-2023. There is one problem, though. Zach Lavine is becoming a significant question mark.
This season, the two-time All-Star guard was a big part of their success but had somewhat of a down year compared to his 2020-2021 numbers. He’s also likely to undergo knee surgery after playing through an injury during the second half of the season. Yet most expect that won’t stop him from demanding a maximum contract as an unrestricted free agent in August. That means well north of $200 million. According to insider Brian Windhorst of ESPN, there is a growing belief the Bulls might not be willing to offer him that money.
“As I’ve talked to league executives, there’s some belief that Zach could be in play. That what a lot of people thought was a foregone conclusion of Zach staying in Chicago on whatever deal it was going to be may not be the case. So as you look at options for this summer, maybe Zach Lavine is in play if you’re willing to give a max.”
It isn’t hard to understand why the organization might be hesitant.
Though Lavine has proven himself to be a capable scorer during his run in Chicago, nobody would mistake him for being a foundational player that can lift his team to success. This past season was the first to involve playoff basketball in his career and the team was dismissed almost as an afterthought. Few people think a pairing of him and DeMar DeRozan is capable of winning a championship. If this rumor proves true, then a sign-and-trade becomes the likely outcome. Windhorst even mentioned a possible landing spot.
That would undoubtedly be a fascinating idea. There is a strong likelihood that Arturas Karnisovas would have multiple teams interested in making a deal. Zach Lavine might be a one-way player, but he’s still good for 25 points every night. That kind of scoring can be valuable in the right environment. The challenge for the Bulls is figuring out how to move on from him while still keeping the team competitive. Their goal must be to improve their front court presence and three-point shooting.