Zach LaVine is excited about the Chicago Bulls’ aggressive offseason, but said this season is crucial in determining the direction of the team and himself as he enters the final season of his contract.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business,” LaVine told ESPN on Thursday. “They did the best for the team and I will continue to go out there and do the best for the team as well. This season in the future will be extremely crucial not only for me but for everyone. Winning would make everything easier.”
Before free agency began and while playing for Team USA in Tokyo, LaVine said he had fulfilled his contract and “wanted it respected” in hopes of getting an extension this offseason. The Bulls, however, would have had to use significant cap space to increase LaVine’s $ 19.5 million salary this season in order to give him a deal that was in line with his market value after he made his first. All-Star team last season.
The Bulls and LaVine had talks about the extension before free agency, sources said, but found no common ground. Instead, Chicago executed sign-and-trade deals for Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan and signed Alex Caruso as a free agent last month, spending nearly $ 200 million as they seek to break a four-year drought with no Playoffs.
“It showed that they are all willing to win and that we are transforming the team to be competitive,” said LaVine, who has never played in the playoffs in seven seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Bulls. “We have a completely new team … we are going to start immediately. I am very happy with the offseason.”
LaVine’s profile is growing. Last season he averaged his career highs in points (27.4), rebounds (5.0) and assists (4.9) and had his best shooting season as he approached the 50/40/90 zone when he shot 51% from the field. , 42% from 3 point range and 85% on the line.
On Thursday he filmed a commercial for CarMax, which will feature it at the start of the NBA season next month. He won a gold medal as a key member of the national team at the Olympics. And right now, he’s slated to be one of the biggest free agents on the market next season and will likely be a regularly discussed name for months to come depending on whether the Bulls live up to expectations.
“I can’t control any of those narratives, any of those thoughts or opinions,” LaVine said of what is sure to be a season of rumors. “What I can control is what I do on the court. That’s what I do best, I take care of my business. I will come to camp ready to be a good teammate and be a better leader every day and help my team. to win. I think that shows my courage and I will let my business side speak for itself when the time comes. “
After failing to land a new contract, LaVine left his old agents and signed with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports after the Olympics. The move drew attention and speculated on LaVine’s plans, although Paul has a history of negotiating long-term extensions to stay with teams, as well as helping star players get out of their places.
“For me, it was more of a leadership part where I had to go and align myself with a brand that I really wanted to be with,” LaVine said of the move. “I just wanted to keep growing my brand and Klutch aligned with me perfectly. I cannot account for other people’s opinions. I made this decision for myself and my family in the future.”
LaVine emphasized that he is focused on the upcoming season. Since returning from Japan, he has been working on building relationships with new teammates. He has worked with DeRozan and Ball in both Los Angeles and Chicago in recent weeks, looking to build some chemistry.
He is expected to start alongside Ball in the backcourt and believes he will be a perfect fit.
“He’s one of the best passers in the game, one of the players with the highest IQs,” LaVine said of Ball. “He gets on and off the court fast. I don’t see how our games can’t fit together.”