Bulls' DeMar DeRozan Says Zach LaVine Is 'Max Player, Max Talent, Max Everything'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 28, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 02:  Zach LaVine #8 and DeMar DeRozan #11 of the Chicago Bulls celebrate the win as Immanuel Quickley #5 of the New York Knicks walks off the court after the game at Madison Square Garden on December 02, 2021 in New York City. The Chicago Bulls defeated the New York Knicks 199-115. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Chicago Bulls star guard Zach LaVine is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his teammate DeMar DeRozan believes he should be signing a max contract soon enough.

"Max player, max talent, max everything," he told reporters when asked if LaVine deserved to be paid a maximum contract. "He's one of those players in this league that you don't see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he's able to do. He deserves everything that's coming to him."

LaVine, 27, will be eligible for a five-year, $210.5 million max extension this summer if he re-signs with the Bulls, a significant raise on the four-year, $156 million max deal he could get if he signed with a new team as a free agent.

It's also possible he'll be eligible to sign a five-year, $245.6 million designated veteran max contract, though he'll only qualify for that mega-deal if he makes an All-NBA team, which seems unlikely. While he's had a very solid year (24.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.5 APG), he had a better season last year and didn't crack All-NBA.

And while the Bulls already have $100 million accounted for on their active roster cap for next season, they can go over the cap to re-sign LaVine since they hold his Bird rights.

So barring another contender wooing LaVine in a surprise move, he'll likely return to the Bulls next season.

DeRozan will be happy to see him return if that happens. The veteran guard clearly enjoyed playing alongside LaVine and had an incredible bounce-back year of his own, averaging 27.9 points per game this year.

Despite the Bulls' season ending Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks—and a disappointing finish to the regular season that saw the team lose 15 of its final 22 games and drop from the top seed in the Eastern Conference to No. 6—DeRozan enjoyed his first season in Chicago.

"Perfect," he told reporters regarding the experience. "Couldn't have went a better way. It's been a great year, to say the least. Just being around the front office, teammates, city. Everything has been something more than I could've imagined."

LaVine wasn't on the court in Game 5, missing it because of the NBA's health and safety protocols. But DeRozan is clearly hoping to team up with him again next year.