Bulls reach agreement with LaVine, but miss on Gallinari

  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine is coming back to the team on a max contract.

    Bulls guard Zach LaVine is coming back to the team on a max contract. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/1/2022 1:58 PM

One wait has ended, but the Bulls still have work to do.

Free agent Zach LaVine officially agreed to a new contract worth a reported $215 million over five years, which is the maximum allowed by NBA rules. LaVine broke the news himself with a comedic Instagram video, while his agency, Klutch Sports Group, also revealed the contract agreement on Twitter.

 

The new contract makes LaVine the highest-paid player, not only in Bulls history, but in Chicago sports history by a wide margin.

At the same time, free agent forward Danilo Gallinari didn't want the Bulls money. According to multiple reports, Gallinari chose to sign with Boston.

The Bulls were trying to split their midlevel exception between Gallinari and center Andre Drummond, who reportedly agreed to a two-year deal worth $6.6 million. That means the Bulls' offer to the former Atlanta Hawks forward was in the neighborhood of $7.5 million for the first year.

Gallinari was a late addition to this free agent class. He was sent to San Antonio in the Dejounte Murray trade and then waived by the Spurs.

The Bulls filled another roster spot by agreeing to a new deal with forward Derrick Jones Jr. According to NBA insider Shams Charani, Jones agreed to a two-year deal worth $6.6 million. The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 5.6 points for the Bulls last season. Both Drummond and Jones have player options for the second year.

With one roster spot still open, is there anyone left for the Bulls to pursue? Well, the list is short. They could take a chance on former Indiana forward T.J. Warren, who averaged 19.8 points in the 2019-20 season and was a star at the Orlando bubble. But he's played in just four games the past two seasons due to injuries.

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They could try either of twins Caleb and Cody Martin, both good 3-point shooting forwards.

Another interesting case is Indiana's Jalen Smith. The 6-foot-10 forward was the No. 10 pick of the 2020 draft by Phoenix. But the Suns declined to pick up his third-year contract option, traded him to the Pacers and now he's a rare second-year free agent. Smith averaged 19.6 points and 11.1 rebounds per 36 minutes in 22 games with Indiana last season.

Of course, the Bulls will continue to pursue a trade for Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, long shot or not. Durant reportedly requested a trade Thursday and Phoenix is thought to be his first choice. A trade featuring center DeAndre Ayton makes sense, but the Bulls can try their best to compete.

LaVine played on the U.S. Olympic team with Durant last summer. Convincing Durant of the benefits of the Bulls would be a strong first step.

@McGrawDHSports

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