The front office of the Chicago Bulls has done an impressive job so far this NBA offseason. They had two glaring needs in a frontcourt complement to Lauri Markkanen and wing help. John Paxson and Gar Forman accomplished that by drafting Wendall Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchinson. Their next job was to retain the services of Zach LaVine.
At the beginning of the negotiation process, the Bulls and LaVine were far apart on agreeing on a deal. It was reported that LaVine’s camp was looking for $20 million or more per year and the Bulls were looking at between $14 to $16 million per year. The front office of the Bulls wanted other NBA teams to set the market for LaVine since he was a restricted free agent. On Friday night, the Sacramento Kings and LaVine agreed to an offer sheet of four years, $78 million deal.
That did not scare the Bulls away, as they matched the offer within the next few hours. Some fans might start to criticize the front office for giving a player who only played 24 games, that much money. However, the deal for Zach is actually not that bad.
Analyzing The Deal
One major thing to point out about Zach LaVine’s deal that it is team-friendly to the Bulls, regarding LaVine’s injury history.
ESPN story on Bulls plan to match Zach LaVine's four-year, $78M offer sheet, which includes injury protection for team on his surgically repaired left knee: https://t.co/4neAwtnCAf
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 7, 2018
The Bulls learned from their previous injury history with Jay Williams and Derrick Rose, to name a few, that an injury clause has to be in place in order to fork up some much-guaranteed money. Since the new TV deal, the NBA salary cap has risen. This upcoming season cap is projected to be at $101.8 million.
LaVine is scheduled to make $19.5 million per year, which is less per year than the likes of Otto Porter, Serge Ibaka, Allen Crabbe, Ryan Anderson, Chandler Parson and others. The reason why Zach has the edge over those names mentioned are that they either in or past their prime and LaVine still has not reached his potential yet.
Front Office Banking On Potential
Before his injury, LaVine was a two-time NBA slam dunk champion, averaging 19 points per game, shooting 46% from the field, and 36% from the three-point line. Returning from his ACL injury with the Bulls, he averaged 16.7 points per game and dropped a season-high 35 points against his former team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
LaVine is still only 23-years-old and his game is not even polished yet. He is uber-athletic and one area he can work hard on and improve at is on the defensive end. The front office of the Bulls believes that LaVine is a future All-Star and one of the core pieces of this current Bulls team. If he does begin to live up to his potential, this deal could end up being a steal.
The Summer Of 2019
The Bulls now have their current young core in place with Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. Even with LaVine’s deal, the Bulls still have enough cap space to make a run at some big name free agents in 2019.
The Bulls will be projected to have nearly $45 million next summer to throw at names like Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and more. The Bulls are in a prime position to make some noise this upcoming season and gear themselves to the top tier of the East by next season.