The Chicago Bulls are going to have some big decisions to make this offseason in free agency. Zach LaVine is heading into restricted free agency and up to this point, the Bulls have been expected to sign him to a big, long-term deal. While that may be the expectation, things may not end up working out like that.
According to a report shared by Bleacher Report, the Bulls may allow LaVine to walk this offseason in free agency if he gets a big enough offer from another team.
“The near-universal support LaVine once had internally isn’t there anymore,” ESPN NBA analyst Nick Friedell said. “[Chicago] will wait to see if he can find big [money] elsewhere first and then decide if they want to match.”
LaVine is an extreme talent and one of the top athletes in the game. He missed most of the season after tearing his ACL last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Chicago acquired LaVine in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler out of town. At the time, the Bulls were expected to view LaVine as a cornerstone of their rebuild. Now, it appears that they are happy to move on without him if the price gets too high, and build around Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter, Jr., instead.
Plenty of teams will have interest in signing a guard like LaVine. Whether he is searching mainly for money or the best chance to take his game to a new level, one of those two factors will decide whether he ends up returning to Chicago.
Bulls planning wait-and-see approach to Zach Lavine's restricted free agency after organization's “near universal support” just isn’t there anymore, per @NickFriedell https://t.co/Rnejm5WTno pic.twitter.com/KVewtzkchA
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) June 22, 2018
During the 2017-18 season with the Bulls, LaVine played in just 24 regular season games. In those 24 games, LaVine averaged 16.7 points per game to go along with 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He shot 38.3 percent from the floor overall and knocked down 34.1 percent of his three-point attempts.
Heading into the offseason, there are only a few teams that are capable of spending big money in free agency. Those teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Brooklyn Nets. Only three of those teams need a player like LaVine, although the Lakers, Mavericks, and Nets are three that could.
If the Bulls do let LaVine walk, there will be quite a few unhappy fans. He is already very well liked in Chicago and has the potential to become a lethal scorer in the future.
Expect to hear more about LaVine in the near future with free agency opening on July 1. Chicago may not be willing to pay max money, but losing the talented shooting guard would be a disappointment.