Zach LaVine says season ‘crucial’ for Chicago Bulls leadership, own future


Zach LaVine was excited about the Chicago Bulls’ aggressive offseason, but says this season is crucial in determining where the team and himself go as he enters the final season of his contract.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” LaVine told ESPN Thursday. “They did what was best for the team and I will continue to go there and do what is best for the team as well. This coming season will be extremely crucial not only for me but for everything the world. everything. “

Prior to the start of free agency and while playing for the United States team in Tokyo, LaVine said he had exceeded his contract and “wanted her respect” in hopes of getting an extension. contract this offseason. The Bulls, however, should have used significant cap space to raise LaVine’s $ 19.5 million salary this season in order to offer him a deal in line with his market value after making his first All-Star team of the season. last.

The Bulls and LaVine had extension talks ahead of free agency, sources said, but they couldn’t find common ground. Instead, Chicago made signing-and-swap deals for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan and signed Alex Caruso as a free agent last month, spending nearly $ 200 million as they look to break a four-year drought in the playoffs.

“It showed that they are all set to win and that we are transforming the team to be competitive,” said LaVine, who has never played in the playoffs in seven seasons with the Timberwolves and the Bulls. Minnesota. “We have a whole new team… we are going to start racing. I was very happy with the offseason.”

LaVine’s profile is growing. Last season, he averaged career highs in points (27.4), rebounds (5.0) and assists (4.9) and enjoyed his best shooting season as he approached the vaunted 50/40/90 zone as he shot 51% from the field, 42% from 3-point range and 85% from the line.

On Thursday, he shot a commercial for CarMax, which will feature him at the start of the NBA season next month. He won a gold medal as a key member of the national team at the Olympics. And right now, he’s set to be one of the big-name free agents in the market next season and will likely be a regularly discussed name in the months to come, depending on whether the Bulls live up to expectations.

“I can’t control any of these narratives, any thoughts or opinions,” LaVine said of what is sure to be a season of rumors. “What I can control is what I do on the pitch. It’s what I do best, I take care of business. I will come into camp ready to be a good teammate and to be a better leader every day and helping my team win. I think that shows my value and I’ll let my business side speak for itself when the time comes. “

After failing to secure a new contract, LaVine left his former agents and signed with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports after the Olympics. The move drew attention and speculation over LaVine’s plans, although Paul is used to negotiating long-term extensions to stay with the teams in addition to helping star players find their way out of the squads. premises.

“For me, it was more of a leadership part where I had to align myself with a brand that I really wanted to be with,” LaVine said of the decision. “I just wanted to continue building my brand and Klutch was perfectly aligned with me. I can’t explain what other people’s opinions might be. I made this decision for myself and my family to move forward. “

LaVine stressed that he is focused on the season ahead. Since returning from Japan, he has been working to build relationships with new teammates. He has worked with DeRozan and Ball in Los Angeles and Chicago for the past few weeks, seeking to create some chemistry.

He should start alongside Ball in the backcourt and thinks that will be a perfect fit.

“He’s one of the best passer in the game, one of the highest IQ players,” LaVine said of Ball. “He goes up and down the field quickly. I don’t see how our games can’t fit together.”


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