clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Don’t worry about what Zach LaVine is doing, worry about what the Bulls have historically done

news abhors a vacuum

2022 NBA All-Star - All Star Practice Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

We keep having to tap the sign:

**********************************************************
** Zach LaVine rumors are nothing to worry about **
**********************************************************

The past few days, it’s been ‘rumor’ that LaVine may be looking to go to a new team because he wants a higher profile role, as after years of being the lead dawg on a dawg-shit team, this past season he was overshadowed by DeMar DeRozan.

That has taken a life of its own as aggregators mounted up and rode it into clicks. But what really is ‘there’, if anything?

The general message of LaVine being potentially looking to join a new team came from, to be fair, LaVine himself. LaVine followed up his fairly awful and truncated playoff performance by saying that had no impact on his future prospects...he was going to be an Unrestricted Free Agent for the first time, and was excited about being pursued. Nothing wrong with that, and if he cared about rumors of unhappiness he would’ve got out in front and addressed it. So instead these things happen out in the cesspool of take-havers and rumor-mongers, while he gets a surgery and we know nothing of the severity or recovery timeline.

(to be fair, it would be happening regardless of anything he did or said)

This bit about unhappiness in his role appears to have started with a family member of a teammate. Maybe a Mr. Green or Mr. Brown or Mr. White or something, I won’t bother to remember which relative. Then Jake Fischer of waitaminute, BleacherReport(?), had this extremely flimsy rumor:

One specific note has been frequently repeated by league figures with knowledge of the situation: The fourth quarter brilliance that put DeRozan in the MVP conversation often left LaVine watching from the corner as DeRozan isolated in the midpost.

While Chicago was supposed to be LaVine’s team, featuring new running mates for the Bulls’ All-Star centerpiece, LaVine was routinely rendered to a supplementary role alongside DeRozan.

This is not to suggest a rift between LaVine and DeRozan, but it provides necessary context as to why LaVine is suddenly viewed as a gettable free agent from rival front offices, as opposed to a straightforward extension case.

Emphasis mine, as hopefully that points out that this is not even coming from LaVine second-hand: it’s just ‘league figures’ looking at the Bulls performance while LaVine was hobbled and DeRozan was DeClosin’, and projecting ‘hmm, maybe LaVine doesn’t want that’.

Marc Stein, who’s typically responsible about such things, was somewhat irresponsible in peddling this same idea:

It’s been whispered by a few interested teams that there is much more hope in circulation than anticipated that LaVine can be lured away from the Bulls in free agency....it’s been quietly surmised in recent weeks that LaVine is potentially chafing from all the praise DeMar DeRozan received this season.

Quiet surmising of potential chafing! Whispered by interested teams!

The thing about these rumors is that they are both so weak and transparently sourced. They’re not even hiding that this is coming from teams that are trying to acquire LaVine, and are likely hiding that it’s coming from his agency trying to get him the most money possible.

If this was coming from LaVine himself, at least second-hand, it’d be more interesting. But one of the more plugged in peddlers of that information, KC Johnson of the team’s broadcast partner, merely followed up that ‘league gossip’ is linking LaVine to potential destinations elsewhere, nothing about LaVine’s potential unhappiness in Chicago.

That may be because the idea that LaVine is unhappy in his role and would find a better role elsewhere makes zero sense: all from what he’s said repeatedly about his career so far, and what he’s said this year with better teammates, plus even base-level speculation of other teams where he wouldn’t be the number one guy there either.

And think of it this way: if LaVine had a genuine problem with DeRozan getting praise, or his role in the scoring hierarchy, that dumbass Joe Cowley would be irresponsibly amplifying it all year. Instead there hasn’t been anything on that dynamic from him.

Like we said last time, this is all subterfuge and chicanery from LaVine’s representation and rival teams to help his leverage heading into contract negotiations. That is nothing to worry about, and is par for the course when you have a sorta-superstar in free agency.

What you can worry about is the other party in this negotiation: Reindsorf and Son, LLC.

KC is certainly plugged in with them (Cowley even moreso with lil’ Mike specifically)

there is speculation from rival executives whether or not the Bulls will extend LaVine the full maximum contract

Now, this is still a weak and transparent rumor. But we have 30+ years of history to go on here, further emphasized by the most recent time the Bulls had a player this good in Jimmy Butler.

We have weeks before it gets to negotiation time, and I’ll have more on how I think that will go. But I am pretty certain that at the least it will be a negotiation. That is Jerry Reinsdorf’s passion, what he wants to win more than games. So I can speculate, and consider it informed by The Bulls being The Bulls, that there is no way they just make their best offer right away.

And that runs counter to what LaVine wants. He is not actually interested in a better role or different teammates or a different market, he wants “respect”, a.k.a. he wants the most money the Bulls can offer.

That disconnect is what’s fueling the rumors. Tame as they are and as close to nothing as possible, but given this is the Bulls...it’s not completely nothing.