It’s no secret that Bull’s shooting guard Zach LaVine has been the talk of NBA free agency already. The NBA season hasn’t even concluded and a lot of people are wondering where LaVine might end up. There are a lot of rumors saying he will be headed to LA for good reason. While we don’t know what will go down with LaVine yet we do know how much money he can be offered by the Bulls this offseason.
The Chicago Bulls are the only team in the NBA that can offer Zach LaVine a 5-year deal and are also the only team that can offer him $212,280,000.
The full max that another team can offer LaVine would be a four-year deal worth $157,380,000.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 25, 2022
Since LaVine didn’t make an All-NBA team he was not eligible for the Super Max. This means the Bulls can offer him a max contract of $212,280,000 over five years. That’s roughly $42.5 million each year. This contract would be $54.9 million more than any other team can offer LaVine however it comes with one additional year. This puts the Bulls in a good position to keep Zach if it’s solely based on money. However, other factors will likely come into play here. LaVine is keeping thins wide open in free agency and hasn’t committed one way or another. There are quite a few reasons why LaVine could be wearing a Lakers jersey next season.
LaVine has always been a Lakers fan
The first reason why LaVine could be leaving is his ties to the Lakers. LaVine has always been a fan of the Lakers and he said it two days ago when asked about free agency by TMZ.
Zach LaVine was asked by TMZ about the comments that LaVar Ball made to @thekapman about him going to the Los Angeles Lakers and he responded by saying that "me and Lonzo are boys" and that he has "always been a big fan" of the Lakers.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) May 24, 2022
Saying something like this only helps LaVine on one side of contract negotiations. The Bulls are going to offer the max and his agency knows that. This means he’s saying something like that to get the Lakers to offer the most money they possibly can. This puts him in a position to get back to LA and still be making a lot of money. I don’t see any other reason he would say this knowing the Bulls will already offer the max. There’s been a common theme in sports and LaVine is headed down that same path.
LaVine has LA ties
It’s been a reoccurring theme in sports where players want to go back to where they are from or played in college. For LaVine this is the same story. LaVine played college basketball at UCLA. It’s also worth mentioning that LaVine lives in LA when the season isn’t in session. Sure a lot of players live in LA or another place when the season isn’t actively happening but a lot of those players aren’t in the same position as LaVine. He’s at a pivotal point in his career where he needs to make his mark in the league. He may believe the only place to do that is in LA. I’m sure summer in LA won’t help his decision when it comes to returning to the Bulls. All the rumors coming out of his agency only do one thing and it’s not good for the Bulls.
Klutch Sports is keeping the door wide open
LaVine’s agency Klutch Sports has been rumored to be the one releasing all of these rumors surrounding Zach. A league source told Heavy.com the following
“That is their M.O. The more drama in the process, the better. No one was talking about Zach. Now everyone is. Mission accomplished.”
Some are saying this is being done to bully the Bulls into offering LaVine the max possible contract. I think it’s intended to bully other teams to offer the max they possibly can. I’ve said it before but the Bulls were/are always going to offer the max. They know if they offer anything less it will be an insult to LaVine and he would likely walk. So why makeup rumors like this unless you want other teams to think you are a hot commodity that they need to pay more for? Beyond just the dollar value the length of the contract is another factor to consider.
LaVine could be tied down for too long
The max offer the Bulls can make would be a five-year contract. The max offer any other teams can make would be four years. Some might say that’s only one year difference so what does it matter? Well for professional athletes it matters quite a bit. If LaVine signs with the Bulls and things go south after two years he’s now tied to the team for a total of three more years. You look at a four-year deal and it becomes a little more manageable if things fall apart after two. He would be more likely to be taken in a trade with only two years remaining or be able to find a way out of things sooner. This is another piece of the puzzle that has to be factored in.
Once the offseason begins we will know
At the beginning of the Bulls offseason, I was sure LaVine was coming back but after these last couple of weeks I don’t know if that’s the case. LaVine may go elsewhere if the fit is right. I think that place is LA and if they can find a way to make things work financially and move current point guard Russell Westbrook I would not be surprised at all if LaVine left. There’s a lot more tying him to LA than Chicago at this stage. If the pieces start moving in LA once the NBA offseason officially begins don’t be surprised if the Bulls lose the LaVine sweepstakes.