NBA

'Nothing has changed' – Bulls reiterate desire to re-sign LaVine

By Sports Desk June 27, 2022

The future of two-time All-Star guard Zach LaVine remains the biggest question mark this offseason for the Chicago Bulls.  

The franchise's desires, however, have been made crystal clear.  

"We hope Zach is here for a long time, and nothing has changed," executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said Monday.  

Karnisovas and the Bulls have repeatedly made their desire to re-sign LaVine public, with the NBA's free agent negotiating period set to start on Thursday.  

Karnisovas spoke at a news conference intended to introduce first-round draft pick Dalen Terry, but LaVine's unrestricted free agency again took centre stage.  

LaVine previously said that he plans on exploring his options in free agency but has not ruled out returning to Chicago.  

The Bulls could offer LaVine a contract up to five years and about $212million, while the largest offer he could receive from another team would be near $157m over four years.  

Expectedly, Karnisovas remained quiet on the offer the team plans to make to LaVine.  

"I'm confident. I'm confident in approaching this free agency in the next couple of days, sitting down with our group, looking at a lot of things," he said. 

After scoring a career-high 27.4 points per game in 2020-21, LaVine's production and efficiency dipped a bit last season as he battled thumb and knee injuries, averaging 24.4 points a night.  

LaVine had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in May.  

"I think he's gonna be healthy," Karnisovas said. "I think he's now progressing great."

The Bulls got off to a strong start last season, leading the Eastern Conference into February but losing 15 of 22 games to close the regular season.

Despite ending a four-year playoff drought, they were dispatched in the first round in five games by the Milwaukee Bucks.  

Even with the disappointing end to the season, Karnisovas would like to keep together the core of LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball.  

"This group has been here only since October," Karnisovas said. "We're still trying to get used to how to play with each other."

While free agent deals will not be officially recognised by the league until July 6, teams and players can agree to terms starting from this Thursday.

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