Zach LaVine

Bulls Plan To “Do What It Will Take” To Keep Zach LaVine

With the start of free agency now less than a week away, the Bulls‘ front office is determined to re-sign guard Zach LaVine, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

Asked Thursday whether the team plans to extend a five-year, maximum-salary offer to LaVine, general manager Marc Eversley didn’t provide a direct answer, but he responded, “We’re prepared to do what it will take to bring Zach back in the fold and be a Chicago Bull.”

Eversley added that he looks forward to meeting with LaVine and agent Rich Paul to work out the terms of a new contract for the unrestricted free agent.

LaVine previously said that he plans to explore his options, but more recent reports indicate that he may re-sign with the Bulls shortly after free agency begins next Thursday. Eversley said he’s not sure about LaVine’s intentions, but stressed the importance of keeping him in Chicago.

“Zach, two-time All-Star, he’s an Olympian, he’s been a terrific Chicago Bull thus far,” Eversley said. “It’s our every intention to bring him back. We’re excited about the opportunity to sit down and talk to him. We feel like he’ll be excited to sit down and talk with us. And we’re looking forward to that day.”

Despite his accomplishments, LaVine faces a somewhat limited market in free agency, Johnson adds. Only a handful of teams have the cap room to extend a max offer, and they all missed the playoffs this season. The Bulls also have the advantage of being able to offer LaVine a five-year deal worth about $212MM, while other teams will be limited to four years at roughly $157MM.

Central Rumors: J. Williams, Cavaliers, Turner, Rubio, LaVine

The Cavaliers view Jalen Williams as a peripheral prospect with the No. 14 pick, but he’ll get a chance to change their minds at a workout Monday, writes Chris Fedor of Williams said that session will be his last one before Thursday’s draft and only his third for a lottery team, with the Spurs and Thunder being the others. Williams has reportedly been moving up draft boards and believes his lack of exposure at Santa Clara caused some teams to overlook him.

“Teams haven’t seen me a lot just due to the fact that we were a west coast team playing late at night,” he said. “Just showcasing that I’m a lot bigger than what it looks like on TV and I’m more athletic. Honestly, just playing my game, going in there and competing with other dudes that are doing the same thing as me. Just show a good, positive attitude throughout the whole workout. Everyone here can hoop so try to do the little things to stand out.”

The Cavs might have a greater interest in Williams if they trade down, which is under consideration, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Scotto hears from league sources that Cleveland would be willing to move backward in this year’s draft in exchange for a future first-round pick.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Trade rumors continue to surround Pacers center Myles Turner, but he prefers to stay in Indiana, Scotto notes in the same story. Turner, whose season was ended by a foot injury in mid-January, wants a chance to play alongside Tyrese Haliburton, who wasn’t acquired from the Kings until February. Turner reportedly views Haliburton as the best passing point guard he’s ever had a chance to team up with. He also expects a larger role in the offense now that Domantas Sabonis is in Sacramento.
  • The Cavaliers have interest in bringing back free agent guard Ricky Rubio, Scotto adds. Rubio helped Cleveland get off to a fast start last season before suffering a torn ACL in late December. He was sent to the Pacers in February as part of the Caris LeVert deal.
  • Zach LaVine appears increasingly likely to re-sign with the Bulls shortly after free agency begins, Marc Stein states in his latest column on Substack. Teams that were believed to have interest in pursuing LaVine are being warned that he may not be available, Stein adds.

Zach LaVine Likely To Re-Sign With Bulls

Despite rumors that Zach LaVine plans to talk with other teams in free agency, the most likely scenario has him re-signing with the Bulls, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

LaVine is expected to receive a new five-year contract valued at around $200MM, according to Fischer, who notes that the only significant point of contention is the status of the final year of the deal. It could be fully or partially guaranteed, or LaVine could be given a player option.

The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Hawks and Lakers are all expected to reach out to LaVine, but Fischer doesn’t believe any of those teams can provide the two-time All-Star with a better situation than what he has in Chicago. LaVine wants to be the sole focal point of the offense, which hasn’t happened since the Bulls added DeMar DeRozan last summer, but he wouldn’t get that in Portland, Atlanta or L.A. It’s something San Antonio could offer, but the Spurs aren’t among the top contenders in the West.

Upgrading the frontcourt will be an offseason priority in Chicago, according to Fischer. His sources say the team is listening to offers for Nikola Vucevic, who has a $22MM expiring contract, and has expressed interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert, although the club’s  reluctance to part with Patrick Williams may prevent a deal from being worked out with Utah.

The Bulls are also exploring trades involving third-year point guard Coby White, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, and the No. 18 pick in next week’s draft, Fischer adds.

Fischer’s Latest: Brunson, LaVine, Beal, Anunoby, Ayton, Collins

Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, Bulls wing Zach LaVine, and Wizards guard Bradley Beal are all considered likely to remain with their respective teams in free agency this offseason, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said during an appearance on the Dunc’d On podcast this week.

Brunson has been linked to teams like the Knicks, Pistons, and Pacers over the last few months, but the Mavs have consistently stated both publicly and privately that they want to hang onto the point guard. According to Fischer, people around the league are writing in Brunson’s return to Dallas “in Sharpie” at this point. “Literally, everyone in the league is saying that,” Fischer said.

Fischer has been among the reporters to suggest that LaVine’s return to Chicago is no longer viewed as a sure thing, but he doesn’t believe the All-Star swingman will actually leave the Bulls.

“Even people around him have been saying all along, ‘Yeah, the door’s open, but we don’t think he’s going to leave,'” Fischer said.

Asked if there’s any smoke around the idea of Beal exiting Washington, Fischer said he hasn’t heard anything he’s “giving much weight to.” As Fischer observes, the Wizards guard could accept a lucrative contract offer to remain in D.C. this offseason, knowing that he could request a trade down the road if he eventually decides he wants out.

“The Zach LaVine thing, like I said, I don’t expect him to leave, but people there are at least saying, ‘Yeah, the door’s open for him to go,'” Fischer said. “No one’s even coming close to that type of verbiage when it comes to Brad.”

Here are a few more of the highlights from Fischer’s Dunc’d On appearance:

  • Following up on his reporting on OG Anunoby, Fischer reiterated that he believes the Raptors wing wants a greater role on offense. “I do definitely think there’s definitive truth that he wants more opportunity,” Fischer said. “That’s the one thing that’s been repeated across the board from everyone I’ve talked to — from people within his representation, to coaches who’ve worked with him in the past, to general people in the league who would know, let’s say. And that’s the one word that everyone consistently agrees on, that he wants more opportunity, and it doesn’t seem like a clear path to having that in Toronto.”
  • The Raptors aren’t going to “sell off” Anunoby, but appear open to the idea of including him in a trade for an impact player, according to Fischer, who once again identifies the Trail Blazers and Jazz as teams with interest. “Portland is definitely targeting OG. He’s definitely said to be someone that (Damian) Lillard wants to pair with,” Fischer said. “Utah has had conversations – I think they’ve even had conversations with Toronto, (though) I don’t want to say there’s been offers made. Right now most of these teams are in super-early conversations and the only team I hear about that’s ready to talk trade right now is (the Hawks).”
  • Fischer believes Suns center Deandre Ayton could be the biggest name to change teams in free agency this summer, perhaps in a sign-and-trade. “He wants the max, he doesn’t want to come down from that,” Fischer said of Ayton. “… Detroit gets mentioned a lot. Portland, it seems like he’s another guy that Dame has interest in playing with. Toronto gets mentioned. San Antonio’s been mentioned.”
  • Hawks big man John Collins is another player Fischer believes is drawing interest from the Trail Blazers. Fischer adds that the Spurs had serious interest in Collins a year or two ago, but admits he’s not sure whether that’s still the case. “There was someone I talked to today who had just spoken to Atlanta in recent days who said that John Collins is clearly the guy that they are most interested in moving,” Fischer said.

Blazers Rumors: Beal, LaVine, Bridges, Grant, Collins

The Trail Blazers are exploring the trade market in search of veterans who can help Damian Lillard get the team back into the playoffs, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who observes that Portland has a handful of assets in hand to offer up in possible deals.

Besides the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s draft, the Blazers also have a trade exception worth nearly $21MM, Josh Hart and his team-friendly contract, Eric Bledsoe‘s expiring deal (Bledsoe’s partial guarantee could be increased as needed for salary-matching purposes), future draft picks, and possibly Jusuf Nurkic as a sign-and-trade candidate.

Here’s more from O’Connor on the players Portland could go after this summer:

  • Sources tell The Ringer that free-agents-to-be Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine are potential Blazers targets, though it’s unclear if they’ll be willing to leave the Wizards and Bulls, respectively, for Portland. Lillard and Beal are friends who played together for Team USA, O’Connor notes.
  • Hornets restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges is a player worth keeping an eye on for the Blazers, sources tell O’Connor. The team is in the market for a big wing who can help on defense and be a secondary offensive play-maker, and Bridges fits the bill. Again though, it remains to be seen if Portland will be able to pry away Bridges from his current team, especially since Charlotte will be able to match any offer sheet.
  • Pistons forward Jerami Grant is another two-way wing frequently mentioned as a target for Portland, as O’Connor observes. In his latest Substack article, Marc Stein writes that the Hawks continue to register interest in Grant, but the Blazers would likely be able to outbid Atlanta and other Grant suitors if they’re willing to include the No. 7 pick in their offer.
  • Hawks big man John Collins is also frequently cited as a player on the Blazers’ radar, according to O’Connor, who suggests Collins would be more of a lob threat – and more versatile defensively – than Nurkic.

Bulls Notes: LaVine, 10 Offseason Questions, Liddell, Minott

Two-time All-Star Zach LaVine is no longer considered a lock to return to the Bulls, with “league gossip” linking him to rival teams, as reported by K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago a couple of weeks ago. With that in mind, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype explores four potential teams who might pursue the 27-year-old in unrestricted free agency this summer.

The Lakers would obviously have interest, but acquiring LaVine would be complicated because it would require moving Russell Westbrook first, or him to be involved in a sign-and-trade. They’d also be hard-capped at that point and only able to sign minimum-salaried players to fill out the rest of the roster, per HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan.

Lavine makes sense as a fit next to Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, according to Urbina, and Detroit has the ability to create enough cap space to sign him outright. However, after reaching the postseason for the first time in his career in 2021/22, I’m skeptical LaVine would be interested in joining a rebuilding club.

The Heat and Hawks are two other sign-and-trade possibilities, but Urbina notes that HoopsHype and other publications still believe LaVine returning to Chicago is the most likely outcome, as the Bulls can re-sign LaVine for up to $212.3MM over five years, while rival teams will be limited to four years at $157.4MM.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic lists 10 offseason questions looming over Chicago this summer. Mayberry wonders how the Bulls can go from good to great, whether they’ll be able to re-sign LaVine, where things stand with Lonzo Ball‘s balky knee, how to improve the team’s depth, and whether or not it’s the right time to deal away guard Coby White (who’s eligible for a rookie scale extension on July 1), among several other questions.
  • The Bulls worked out former Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell on Wednesday, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays (via Twitter). The Bulls control the No. 18 pick and Liddell is currently No. 20 on ESPN’s big board, so he could be a realistic target at that spot. Liddell had an impressive junior season for the Buckeyes, averaging 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG on .490/.374/.765 shooting in 32 games (33.2 MPG).
  • Memphis forward Josh Minott will also work out for Chicago on Thursday, tweets Adam Zagoria of Minott is currently No. 48 on ESPN’s board and averaged 6.6 PPG and 3.8 RPG in a limited role as a freshman (33 games, 14.6 MPG).

Central Notes: LaVine, White, Ayton, Brogdon

Because Zach LaVine wasn’t named to any of the All-NBA teams announced this week, the Bulls will be facing a lower price for a maximum deal for the free agent guard, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. LaVine can re-sign with Chicago for up to $212.3MM over five years, while rival teams will be limited to four years at $157.4MM.

The roughly $55MM difference will work in the Bulls’ favor, but Cowley echoes several other reports suggesting that re-signing LaVine isn’t a sure thing. He lists the Lakers, Hawks and Trail Blazers as teams with interest and says more are expected to emerge as free agency draws closer.

Cowley adds “all indications” are that Bulls management plans to offer a full max deal, and it will be up to LaVine to decide whether he wants to continue his career in Chicago. If he does want to move on, Cowley expects executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas to explore sign-and-trade options.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Cowley’s assessment of LaVine is part of an overall look at the Bulls‘ backcourt, where the fate of Coby White is also uncertain. White will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, but Cowley believes the front office is more likely to try to trade him for outside shooting help. Cowley doesn’t expect free agent Matt Thomas to return and says the team could target TyTy Washington or Malaki Branham in the draft if either is still available at No. 18.
  • Expect the Pistons to be among the teams pursuing Suns center Deandre AytonOmari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press states in a mailbag column. Ayton will be a restricted free agent, and Sankofa suggests Detroit might use Jerami Grant to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal. Grant is entering the final year of his current contract and is eligible for a four-year extension worth $112MM.
  • Evan Sidery of Basketball News looks at five potential trade destinations for Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, who may no longer be in the team’s plans after the acquisition of Tyrese Haliburton. Sidery proposes potential deals involving the Suns, Jazz, Lakers, Timberwolves and Heat.

Mavs Notes: Gobert, LaVine, Brunson, Doncic

The Mavericks remain focused on acquiring another All-Star caliber player to complement Luka Doncic after tacitly acknowledging by trading Kristaps Porzingis in February that he wasn’t the right fit, sources tell veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein. The Mavs won’t have salary cap space to sign a player of that caliber outright anytime soon, so if they’re going to try to acquire a star this summer, it will probably have to be via trade.

Dallas has been linked to Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, but Stein’s sources say the Mavs’ interest in the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been overstated. As Stein explains, the team knows it needs to improve its rim protection and rebounding, but had success with a five-out approach this postseason and will likely pursue a more “cost-efficient” option at center.

According to Stein, Bulls guard Zach LaVine is a potential target that intrigues the Mavericks, who apparently like the idea of adding another wing slasher and scorer, particularly after seeing how effective Spencer Dinwiddie was this season alongside Doncic.

However, LaVine is a free agent this summer and it would be a challenge for the Mavs to sign-and-trade for him and re-sign Jalen Brunson, since team salary would be well beyond the projected tax apron — any club that acquires a player via sign-and-trade becomes hard-capped at the apron for the rest of that league year. If acquiring LaVine isn’t realistic, Dallas will likely pivot to other options on the wing, Stein says.

Here’s more on the Mavs, whose season ended on Thursday in Golden State:

  • President of basketball operations Nico Harrison downplayed the need to bring in another All-Star caliber player. There’s teams … that have a bunch of All-Stars, and they were sitting at home watching us play,” Harrison said during his end-of-season presser on Friday (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News). “Yeah, you need to keep upgrading the roster, but I don’t think it’s just about getting a bunch of All-Stars. It’s about getting people that fit.”
  • Harrison said that re-signing Jalen Brunson will be the Mavericks’ “top priority” this offseason (Twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). “We want to re-sign him. He knows it,” Harrison said. “We want him back. He’ll be a big part of our future.” Mavs owner Mark Cuban also spoke about the team’s desire to retain Brunson, as we outlined earlier today.
  • As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays, Cuban admitted that he didn’t know what to expect entering the 2021/22 season after the team underwent front office and coaching changes. He was pleased to see the Mavs establish an identity over the course of the year. “Hard-playing. Physical. Multi-talented, able to complement Luka,” Cuban said in describing the type of player that fits that identity. “Knowing how to play with Luka. That probably is number one. But yeah, you saw how we played it. Guys like Reggie Bullock. Spencer, when he came, got it. Davis Bertans. (Dorian Finney-Smith). Dwight (Powell). Everybody. There’s nobody that you can name that that wasn’t just playing as hard as they possibly can and knew their role.”
  • An Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Tim MacMahon of ESPN believes the Mavericks are “one player away” from being a legitimate title contender. According to MacMahon, that opinion is shared by other rival coaches, executives, and scouts he has spoken to about Dallas’ outlook. For his part, Doncic said after Thursday’s loss that he thinks the Mavs are “on a great, great path.”
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype have published their offseason previews for the Mavericks, while Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report and’s Chris Mannix and Howard Beck also took a closer look at the team’s roster situation going forward.

Central Notes: LaVine, Hill, Carter, Bucks

Recent reports suggest that it’s no slam dunk Zach LaVine will re-sign with the Bulls. However, execs around the league believe the chatter is agent-driven and he’ll likely stay put, according to Sean Deveney of The thinking is that his agency, Klutch Sports, is trying to ensure he’s considered the franchise player in Chicago and that he gets a max deal. An NBA source told Deveney, “It is still Zach’s team, Klutch just wants to make sure everyone knows it.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • If LaVine does indeed leave, the Trail Blazers or Spurs would be the logical move for him, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes. LaVine could join forces with Damian Lillard in Portland or Dejounte Murray in San Antonio. Re-signing with the Bulls is still the likely outcome, Fischer echoes, but the fact that DeMar DeRozan was often the crunch-time go-to scorer this season may play a role in LaVine exploring other options.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer made a mistake playing George Hill over Jevon Carter against Boston, Eric Nehm of The Athletic opines. Budenholzer overestimated Hill’s postseason impact as he battled through an abdominal injury. Nehm explores numerous topics in his mailbag, including how Milwaukee could improve defensively in future postseasons.
  • With the Bucks near the luxury-tax threshold for the 2022/23 season, they’ll once again be looking for players who will sign at the veteran’s minimum, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Owczarski looks at all of the team’s free agent decisions this summer, pointing out Milwaukee will only have the taxpayer mid-level exception at its disposal to sign outside free agents beyond those minimum-salary roster fillers.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Beal, Wizards, Magic

The Hawks, who are widely expected to be one of the more active NBA teams this summer, are believed to be open to discussing possible trades involving nearly all the players on their roster, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says rival executives view Trae Young as Atlanta’s only untouchable player.

The Hawks had trade conversations prior to this year’s trade deadline about John Collins, Kevin Huerter, and Danilo Gallinari, among others, Fischer notes.

Although Fischer says that restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton has been a “popular rumored target” for the Hawks, he cites multiple league sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking that believe the front office will prioritize adding a wing scorer over a big man.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago previously reported that “league gossip” had linked the Hawks to Zach LaVine, a point Fischer reiterates, writing that multiple sources have mentioned Atlanta as a possible destination for LaVine. Since they’ll be well over the cap, the Hawks would likely have to try to work out a sign-and-trade if they get serious about pursuing LaVine.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • After indicating in early March that he’s leaning toward re-signing with the Wizards, Bradley Beal recently suggested his position hasn’t changed. According to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post, Beal – who said his recovery from season-ending wrist surgery has gone well – confirmed that he’s still leaning toward remaining in Washington. “This injury also gave me a mental break, a time to evaluate life, and I haven’t changed my mind-set,” Beal said. “I enjoy being in D.C.; I enjoy being on this team.”
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Josh Robbins considers whether or not Wizards fans would embrace a full-fledged rebuild and explores whether the team could trade up from No. 10 in the draft. Of course, if Washington re-signs Beal, it’s a safe bet the team isn’t shifting into rebuilding mode this summer.
  • The Magic have a history of trading out of the second round of the draft, but they’re expected to use at least one of the No. 32 and No. 35 picks this year, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Price notes that Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams, who has a 7’2″ wingspan despite being just 6’4″, is the type of player the Magic typically like, and he spoke to the team at last week’s combine.