Zach LaVine: It Would've Been 'Disrespectful' to Explore FA After Meeting with Bulls

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2022

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 16: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles the ball upcourt during the first half of a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine had his mind made up when the team was prepared to address his requests at the negotiating table this offseason.

LaVine, who agreed to a five-year, $215 million max extension, told reporters Monday that Chicago had "all the pros":

"I went into the offseason with an open mind and I laid out my goals, just like I always have. Once I was able to meet with [general manager Marc Eversley] and [executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas], and they came to me with everything that I wanted, there was no other reason for me to go outside and look at any other team. I think that would have been, for me, disrespectful on my end because they gave me everything I asked for."

Of course, it probably helped that the Bulls could give him more money than any other team. An offer from any other team in the NBA would've maxed out at $159.4 million over four years.

LaVine has battled injuries throughout his career, most recently suffering a knee injury that required surgery in May. Taking the most money now and sorting out the rest later was the most sensible decision for the 27-year-old.

Still, his comments represent a strong endorsement of the Bulls' direction and the vision laid out by Eversley and Karnisovas.

LaVine undoubtedly would've had a number of suitors had he wanted to explore all of his options. Because he was an unrestricted free agent, the danger of him leaving, in theory, was legitimate.

The expediency with which things came together is a bit of a departure from how Chicago handled its last homegrown star, Jimmy Butler.

In September 2020, ESPN's Nick Friedell reported the team "couldn't be sold on Butler as the face of a championship-caliber team worthy of the supermax, five-year, $223 million contract he could have pursued after the 2017-18 season."

The Bulls' front office at the time, which didn't include Eversley and Karnisovas, obviously misjudged Butler's value, and the franchise has paid for it ever since.

The current regime wasn't going to make the same mistake with LaVine.