Bulls Rumors: Latest Buzz on Zach LaVine Contract, Thaddeus Young

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IApril 28, 2021

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) handles the ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Monday, April 12, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Things did not go all that well for the Chicago Bulls during previous negotiations with shooting guard Zach LaVine in 2018.

Chicago signed LaVine to a four-year, $78 million contract in restricted free agency. But they only did so after LaVine fetched that offer sheet from the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls will soon face more contract talks with their All-Star guard. Can they avoid previous mistakes?

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported LaVine is still perturbed by how his restricted free agency payed out this summer. Of course, that was when Gar Forman and John Paxson were the decision-makers in the front office.

Johnson reported LaVine could be more inclined to negotiate in good faith with the new regime led by vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. It is a front office that has placed a greater emphasis on winning now.

The Bulls pulled off a bit of a shocker when they acquired All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic ahead of the trade deadline. That deal has not paid immediate dividends, as Chicago is just 7-11 since bringing Vucevic into the fold. Still, the trade could have ramifications for LaVine's upcoming free agency in the summer of 2022.

Johnson noted LaVine and Vucevic share the same agency. The two All-Stars are clearly the new foundation of a team that could see a pretty drastic roster shakeup this offseason. Johnson suggested LaVine could be more inclined to re-sign with the Bulls if his vision for the team aligns with that of the front office.

That is not to say LaVine will come at a bargain price.

Bleacher Report's A. Sherrod Blakely reported earlier this month executives around the league believe LaVine will turn down extension offers and enter the open market in the summer of 2022. Johnson also stated Chicago's front office might hope to use its cap space to upgrade the roster this summer, rather than setting aside some of that space for a LaVine extension.

The 26-year-old has every right to seek a max contract. LaVine was averaging 27.5 points, 5.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds through 53 games, shooting over 50 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. He has continued to ascend to the ranks of the elite offensive players in the NBA.

LaVine will be after a big payday next summer. But it seems possible he ends up re-signing with Chicago if the Bulls make moves to bolster the roster this summer and show real progress during the 2021-22 season.


Will Thaddeus Young be a Trade Asset?  

Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young was one of the most coveted trade targets in the NBA prior to the trade deadline.

Bobby Marks of ESPN conducted a poll in which executives around the league were asked which players aside from Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal could have the most drastic impact on the "playoff landscape." Young was the "unanimous answer" to this question, per ESPN. 

The Bulls retained Young through the deadline as they attempted to make a playoff push of their own. But the 32-year-old will be on an expiring contract next season. Might Chicago float Young to add draft capital?

Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic suggested Young could appeal both to contenders and rebuilding teams in need of veterans, especially because his partially guaranteed salary is reportedly set to be around $6 million.

Young has been a revelation for the Bulls this season. Former head coach Jim Boylen mostly kept Young on the perimeter and forced him to be more of a stretch-4 last season. But current head coach Billy Donovan has allowed Young to play as more of a traditional power forward this season.

That change has paid major dividends. Young is averaging 12.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists through 57 games. He has hounded the offensive glass (2.4 boards) and can spring guys open with rub screens, finding cutters underneath the basket and giving Chicago another playmaker in the frontcourt.

Mayberry suggested the organization's "win-now" approach might mean Young remains on the roster to start the 2021-22 season. However, his team-friendly salary and potential value in the trade market could make him a guy to watch ahead of this summer's NBA draft. 


All stats obtained via Basketball Reference, unless otherwise noted.