CLEVELAND – Perhaps no player can make a bigger leap in their profile over the next three months than Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavigne.
He’s a two-time All-Star and for the first time in his career, on a bona fide playoff team with aspirations to make noise after the first round. he and Demar DeRozan Ranked as one of the best duos in the league, it’s a killer 1-2 punch perimeter that will create match problems across the board.
He will be a free agent in July – an unrestricted free agent. A great playoff round could erase any remaining doubts, if any.
“Free agency will be a huge milestone for me,” Lavigne told Yahoo Sports. “It’s really my first time going [an] Unrestricted free proxy. I’ve dealt with being restricted before, so it’s a whole new experience.
“I’m excited for this season with the Bulls. But you know, going forward, it’s going to be a whole new experience for me.”
It stands out for a reason. it takes Sacramento Kings LaVine signed a four-year, $78 million offer sheet in 2018 — the Bulls matched, and thus kept his services — for his first big contract.
LaVine has had one year of ACL surgery removed, but there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that he will return to being a productive player. But he’s made decisive leaps since then and is in line to make his paycheck reflect that, averaging 26 points, nearly five rebounds and five assists in shooting 50% and 41% from three points over the past two seasons.
Both he and DeRozan have had their clutch moments, and his production is on par or far better than his contemporaries. Devin BookerAnd the Bradley Bell And the Jason Tatum.
The restricted free agency trial remains with him. He’s not on Michael Jordan’s small scale or the fictitious Scottie Pippen scale, but he quietly craves validation. LaVine is eligible for a five-year deal of about $200 million this summer if he re-signs with the Bulls — and higher if the All-NBA team. He could get a four-year deal of around $160 million if he signed directly with another team.
“I remember everything now,” Lavigne said with a smile. “I know it’s a different front desk, a different time. But I’ll take it day in and day out and let my agent handle it. But I remember everything. It’s one thing—I always have a chip on my shoulder for multiple reasons.”
John Paxson and Gar Foreman ran the front office in 2018, but was replaced by Arturas Karnicovas as team president and Mark Eversley as general manager. The Bulls quickly climbed to the top of the East, with shrewd deals and engagements – and keeping LaVine as a rare property.
This system keeps its strategy a mystery, but LaVine makes an argument for maximum contract – which he won’t categorically say but won’t deny either.
“I think we all get what we deserve at the level we play at, for our team and in the league. I think I get along with everyone at this level,” he said. “We will let the chips fall. Do [max] Target? I don’t know if that’s the point, but I should get what I deserve.
“I’ll let them tell me what this is and we’ll go from there.”
July is five months. The most pressing issue is his left knee. He missed the last three games before the All-Star break and went to Los Angeles to meet with a specialist, but was relieved by the results that determined the situation was more manageable than dangerous.
LaVine underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, took a shot of cortisone and drained it, making him confident to enter Sunday’s All-Star Game and Saturday’s 3-point competition.
In theory, he could wait until he’s healthy rather than play with some discomfort – especially with a contract at stake. But being close to true fit and East being disputed Too baffling to resist Lavigne.
“It’s tough because I’m a competitor. I’m obviously playing this year, but not at 100 percent,” Lavigne said. “So getting out of there means a lot to me and sacrificing a little bit of myself for the team to make us better and help us keep winning.”
This sacrifice is not always exchanged on the back end, so he is under no hope of being rewarded by the bulls regardless of his body condition.
“I’m doing this for me personally,” said Lavigne. “Everyone has to understand that it’s a business and sometimes you have to look for yourself in these situations. I always want to be healthy and safe.”
He feels like he has answered all the questions put to him. Being productive, playing winning basketball and being able to work with DeRozan on and off the ground. Lavigne knows what he wants, and so does the bull.
“That’s why I don’t have to talk about it,” Lavigne said. “I’m going off season, after this year and I’ll be very satisfied with what I think I’ll get and I’ll be happy for me and my family.”
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”