The bold moves that the Bulls made at the trade deadline didn’t get them into the playoffs, but star guard Zach LaVine is encouraged by the direction of the franchise, writes Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago shook up its roster in late March, including a blockbuster trade to acquire All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from Orlando. The organization is hoping LaVine and Vucevic will be the foundation of the team for years to come.
LaVine is eligible for an extension next season or he could opt for free agency in 2022. Either way, it appears he wants to remain with the franchise.
“Obviously with the trade, it made us a lot better, and I loved it,” LaVine said. “I love it here in Chicago. And I think everybody understands the business of basketball and anything can happen, but I let that stuff handle when it comes by. I don’t think too far into the future about it. I don’t stress about it either. I try to let my game do the talking for me, but also try to worry about the things I haven’t accomplished yet, like winning. This year was great, but also frustrating at the same time.”
There’s more from Chicago:
- LaVine is already looking ahead to next season and is planning offseason workouts with some of his teammates, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. He has invited rookie forward Patrick Williams, who is planning to play in the Summer League, and second-year guard Coby White. “I think that’s a good bonding and team exercise for us, especially in the offseason,” LaVine said. “You’re away from your guys, and everybody needs time away, but once you start ramping back up these are the dudes you’re going to be in battle with. I want to help them just like other players helped me when I was younger going out there and working out.”
- In his comments to the media on Monday, executive VP of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas stressed that the Bulls’ front office will remain aggressive going forward in its efforts to improve the roster, as Sam Smith of Bulls.com relays. “We will not settle for mediocrity here,” Karnišovas said. “We’re going to add talent to our roster and from there get better and come back improved and better so we don’t have to sit out another postseason.”
- Coach Billy Donovan and Karnišovas are expressing support for Lauri Markkanen, but their public comments don’t mean they’ll make a strong effort to keep him when he hits restricted free agency this summer, tweets Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Karnišovas called Markkanen “an essential part of our team” after a disappointing season that saw him lose his starting job.
- Karnišovas said draft-and-stash prospect Marko Simonovic is in the team’s plans for the future and will be evaluated further after his season ends, Schaefer tweets. A second-round pick in 2020, the 21-year-old center played in Serbia this year.