The tides have calmed a bit since Saturday night’s concerning postgame behavior from Zach LaVine, but not without the opinions of many being chimed in. The Bulls’ coaching staff was reportedly made aware of the incident, as was LaVine’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, and each had differing viewpoints on what occurred after the final buzzer in Chicago’s five-point comeback victory. What has come of the two-time All-Star’s reaction to his poor outing, and how does it affect his future in Chicago?
“Not Happy” With LaVine’s Behavior
No surprises here, soon after hearing of their star guard’s actions following their home victory against the Heat, the Bulls’ coaching staff was not pleased.
On the flip side, Billy Donovan did speak at length about how LaVine’s been professional throughout the outside chatter and continued to exude the passion and desire to contribute to winning basketball. He said LaVine’s slow starts could have contributed to his poor attitude coming off the floor but that any competitor would feel similar. Donovan’s continually had LaVine’s back when the scrutiny has risen in Chicago, and nothing different here. He was more concerned with solving the on-court issues that may be spilling into the off-court antics than addressing the few and far-between outbursts from his star guard.
“Being Blown Out Of Proportion”
Rich Paul spoke with The Athletic’s Shams Charania about his client’s incident from the perspective of an agent who represents multiple NBA clients and has dealt with several rumor mills, trade requests, contract negotiations, publicity stunts, and ghost tales. To him, this was another incident of bad timing. In the same week that reports swirled regarding LaVine’s request to play under a new head coach, an alleged wishlist of teams was leaked, and some poor performances from his client; this was just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
While a deeper dive into LaVine’s actions makes them somewhat justifiable, the aggression with which he dismissed the Bulls’ media member and abandoned his celebrating teammates to sulk in the locker room after a poor personal outing is still a sour look. If the limelight were not focused on LaVine, this still would have been a story, but the worst indeed would not have been assumed so quickly.
LaVine Makes Things Right
Donovan did mention that the Bulls have “internally handled” the situation, and further reports have followed stating that LaVine did make his rounds to make amends. Again, it’s not a big surprise here as he’s been with the organization for seven years and is regarded highly as a player and a person.
Chicago just dropped their second of two consecutive meetings with the Miami Heat, this one with a similar storyline until the fourth quarter, where the visiting team kept their foot on the gas and won by 18. On Saturday, the Bulls stormed back in the final period, outscoring Miami by 13 on their way to a five-point win. LaVine finished tonight with 13 points, five assists, three rebounds, and a team-low -24 plus/minus.
His nine-shot attempts were also a season-low. First, the preferred destinations report and his desire to play under a new head coach, then the postgame interview incident, and now back-to-back games with his season low in shot attempts. Are these the first signs that he’s checking out early?