After making him the centerpiece of last year’s Jimmy Butler trade, there’s a decent chance the Chicago Bulls lose Zach LaVine.
It’s not facetious to say it might be a minute before the Chicago Bulls are competing for an NBA title. The idea of the team being competitive and fighting for playoff experience is believable, but there’s still a lot that needs to happen before that’s a reality.
One thing that might put fans on edge is how Gar Foreman and John Paxon have run the Bulls front office this decade. From the failed Derrick Rose years to the dismantling of Tom Thibodeau’s potential championship roster, to trading everyone away, it’s been rough being a Bulls fan.
That’s why there’s a visceral reaction when fans hear news like Zach LaVine might be lost in restricted free agency.
According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, there’s a decent chance that the Bulls front office balks at a $20 million per year offer sheet for LaVine.
This isn’t to say Chicago wouldn’t match an offer sheet that was in that range, but it would be a lot harder to swallow. What would arguably be harder to swallow, for fans, is the idea that the centerpiece of a Jimmy Butler trade is no longer with the team two years after.
To be fair, the centerpiece of that deal now appears to be Lauri Markkanen. LaVine still has a ton of upside but there’s an argument to be made that it’s not worth $20 million per year. He averaged just under 17 PPG last season, which is second-best for his career despite the fact he played in fewer games than he ever has. The reason for that is an ACL injury, which is another red flag when wanting to give a guy $20 million per year — especially in Chicago.
All of this is a worst-case scenario, sparked by rumors that an unnamed Western Conference team is ready to go all-in to sign LaVine. If that never materializes, the Bulls can live in the comfort zone of offering LaVine $14-ish million per season.
Either way, there’s never a time where Bulls fans aren’t feeling some sort of anxiety about where things are going. This Zach LaVine drama is just another in a long line of eye rolls.