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Bulls Rumors: Zach LaVine, Billy Donovan Relationship Still 'Strained' from Benching

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 07: Chicago Bulls Guard Zach LaVine (8) shoots the ball during a NBA game between the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls on January 7, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The relationship between Zach LaVine and Billy Donovan reportedly remains "strained" over the Chicago Bulls coach benching his All-Star guard late in a November game against the Orlando Magic.

Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the relationship is "very workable," but LaVine remains perturbed over the benching and a perceived preferential treatment for DeMar DeRozan in late-game situations.

An incident in which teammates called out LaVine's play in a Dec. 18 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves has also weighed on the two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner behind the scenes.

Donovan benched a struggling LaVine in a Nov. 18 game against the Magic, instead going with a bench-heavy lineup that featured DeRozan in a starring role.

"That's Billy's decision, he's gotta lay with it. Do I agree with it? No. I think I can go out there and still be me even if I miss some shots. That's his decision and he's got to stand on it," LaVine said at the time.

LaVine has been linked to multiple potential trades, but it's unclear if the Bulls have any intention on seriously shopping him before the February trade deadline. He's in the first year of a five-year, $215.2 million contract, so it would be a major surprise to see him moved this soon.

That said, it's not without precedent. The Los Angeles Clippers famously traded Blake Griffin just months after he signed a similar max contract a half decade ago.