Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Zach LaVine Is On His Way To A Supermax Contract Extension


We are only two games into this young season and the Chicago Bulls are 2-0. The team won their first season opener since 2016 and followed it up with a win at home. This team won their second game in blowout fashion 128-112 and a lot of good came from this game. While we will get to all of it there is one thing that needs to be discussed here and that is shooting guard Zach LaVine. It’s no surprise that LaVine is the player the Bulls want to build this franchise around. They made that clear this offseason. However, the discussion has always been around LaVine’s max contract extension after the season is over and if the Bulls can make it happen or not. Well after the first two games of the season LaVine may be looking at a different max extension due to his outstanding performance.

LaVine has taken over both of the team’s first two games this season to ensure a team victory. In this short two-game stretch LaVine has averaged 33 PPG, 61.6 %FG, 6.5 RPG, &  4.5 APG. He is picking up right where he left off after last season. That is exactly why we need to have the discussion about LaVine and how he likely will be looking at an even bigger contract after this season comes to a close.

LaVine is working towards a supermax

The thought moving forward was that LaVine would be offered a max contract extension from the Bulls front office. All of that can change if LaVine is named All-NBA which will make him eligible for the NBA supermax contract extension.

LaVine is certainly on his way to being named All-NBA and doesn’t look to be slowing down. Yes, we are only 2 games into the young season but LaVine has shown time and time again that this is the type of player he can be. LaVine has simply gotten better and better each year and coming off his first All-Star appearance this is primed to be his best season yet. This is something that we should all begin preparing ourselves for as LaVine is continuing to prove he is the player to build around. If he makes All-NBA this season the Bulls will then be given the ability to offer the supermax extension.

What is the supermax contract?

For starters, there are a lot of stipulations that go into even being able to offer a player a supermax. That’s why there are less than 10 players in the league who have been offered. The only reason the Bulls would be eligible to offer LaVine a supermax is because they traded for him in the last deal of his rookie-scale contract. With the Bull’s end of things covered the rest is up to LaVine. If he plays at the level he’s capable of and makes All-NBA the expectation will be a supermax. With that in mind, how much money would we be talking about?

The supermax extension allows teams to offer players a 5-year max extension worth up to 35% of the salary cap with 8% escalation in each subsequent year. When looking at other players who have been offered the supermax their contracts were around $200 million over five years. LaVine’s contract would likely be headed to something a bit higher than that ~$225 million if he checks all of the necessary boxes. While that is still to be determined the Bulls need to make a decision along with LaVine on when to get the extension done.

The timing of the extension will be key

Now that the season has begun and LaVine is playing at a high level it would be hard to believe that an extension would get done midseason. In the current state, the Bulls would only be able to offer a straight max contract which would be only around $105 million over four years. So LaVine knows what is at stake if he can make All-NBA. With that in mind that would mean LaVine and the Bulls will be holding their breath seeing how LaVine’s season turns out.

The supermax eligibility gives the Bulls an advantage so that no team can offer as much money as they can. If LaVine isn’t named to All-NBA the Bulls will still be able to offer him a new max contract however it will be a five-year max which would allow other teams to match. This contract situation will be fluid as the season goes on but LaVine has the capability of making himself A LOT of money this offseason.

Either way, LaVine is playing at a high level even being surrounded by some all-star level talent.

He is certainly on his way to big money regardless. It will be interesting to watch how this all unfolds as the season progresses. LaVine definitely knows what is at stake and you better believe he will be playing as hard as he can to get even more money at the end of the day. Regardless, Bulls fans are going to enjoy watching LaVine continue to thrive. The Bulls made the right decision in building around LaVine and this season will only further prove that.

Conner Grant
Lifelong Chicago sports fan raised in Las Vegas. Purdue University graduate. An engineer by trade, Bulls superfan by choice.

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