Bulls expected to match LaVine's offer sheet from Kings
When they made the trade with Minnesota last summer, the Bulls knew they would have to make a tough financial decision on Zach LaVine with incomplete information.
Well, the time has arrived.
According to multiple reports, LaVine will sign a four-year offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings. There was slight disagreement on the amount of the offer, with yahoo.com reporting $80 million over four seasons while espn.com said $78 million.
The exact amount is a minor detail. Once the deal is signed, the Bulls have two days to decide whether to match the offer or let LaVine go to the Kings for nothing in return.
The feeling here is the Bulls knew this day was coming and will match the offer sheet. In fact, it was predicted in this space when the season ended that four years, $80 million is what it would take to re-sign LaVine.
A team source said the Kings' offer sheet was only slightly more than what the Bulls already offered LaVine, which is why they'll most likely match.
Any hesitation would be due to the fact LaVine hasn't proven himself to be an all-star or franchise caliber player. Then again, he was coming off ACL surgery last season, made his Bulls debut on Jan. 13 and played in just 24 games.
The Bulls never got much of a chance to see how LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen worked together. So keeping LaVine is a leap of faith, to some extent, but he is a very talented athlete and just 23 years old. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged 16.7 points, 3.0 assists and shot 38 percent from the field in his brief run with the Bulls.
When the regular season ended, LaVine expressed confidence that he'll continue evolving into an NBA star. And the two-time slam-dunk contest champion has often been described as a guy with "sky's the limit" potential.
"I'm not going to stop working until I'm an elite player in this league," LaVine said after the April 11 regular-season finale. "I feel like I have the talent to, I have the drive to and I want that. I'm trying to be the best Zach LaVine I can be. The best me I know can be a very good talent."
Matching LaVine's offer sheet won't ruin the chances of the Bulls getting involved in free-agency next year, since the contracts of Robin Lopez, Justin Holiday and Omer Asik will be coming off the books and they won't have to worry about a Dunn extension until the fall of 2019.
Don't forget the Bulls were trying to lose games late in the regular season, so their three main pieces never got much of a chance to grow together. It wouldn't make much sense to give up on LaVine after those circumstances.