As Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine with the media today, there was an evident elephant in the room. "How will you approach free agency?" is the multi-million dollar question, and rightfully so. LaVine was vague about his upcoming decision, as expected, but that shouldn't scare Bulls fans.
This offseason marks LaVine's first trip to unrestricted free agency in his eight-year career. The one time he did sniff the market, it was in restricted free agency. LaVine signed a max offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings, but the Bulls were quick to match it and paid him $80 million over four years to remain in Chicago.
Zach LaVine's Free Agency Outlook
Now, it's important to remember that Zach LaVine has been vocal about wanting to get paid, and rightfully so. He is coming off consecutive NBA All-Star selections and helped the Bulls reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Though LaVine's open-ended comments raise questions about his future, the Bulls can still offer him the most money of any team in the league plus an extra year on his next deal. Other teams can only offer him a four-year max contract, but the Bulls can make it a five-year deal worth $200 million.
At the end of the day, LaVine has earned the right to explore free agency. He has played the game and waited patiently for this moment. But again, it doesn't look like LaVine will want to leave any money on the table, which would be the case if he decides to leave Chicago for another franchise.
Chicago Bulls' executive VP of Basketball operations Arturas Karnsiovas seemed optimistic about getting a deal done to retain LaVine. He spoke of the closeness LaVine has with the coaching staff and the front office.
The Bulls' top brass seems intent on keeping the core together to run it back one more time since injuries derailed the 2021-22 season. And quite simply, that scenario cannot become a reality if LaVine isn't in a Bulls uniform next season. The Bulls will surely do everything possible to retain the two-time All-Star and give it a go again in the 2022-23 NBA season.