Zach LaVine will return to Chicago after the Bulls matched the Sacramento Kings’ 4-year, $78 million offer sheet to LaVine last week.
Many believed that Chicago’s front office would let LaVine walk, given the price tag attached to his lengthy contract and the 23-year-old coming off of ACL surgery. After only playing 24 games for the Bulls, it’s hard to project how LaVine will do in the Windy City.
LaVine’s contract aside, how well can he fit in the rebuilding culture? The Bulls have a sure-fire flamethrower in rising sophomore, Lauri Markkanen. A stretch-four is always nice to have next to a dynamic guard like LaVine.
In the backcourt with the two-time Slam Dunk Contest champion is likely going to be Kris Dunn. The 24-year-old has had trouble finding footing in the league since going 5th overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2016, but has gained momentum with Chicago since the Jimmy Butler trade.
One problem with Dunn, however, is that there were rumors that he wasn’t working hard enough in practice, shortcutting drills, and thus leading to doubts from the front office that he isn’t the point guard of the future.
LaVine has very capable ball-handling abilities, but having him play point guard for the majority of games may not be in Chicago’s best interest. LaVine averages 3.2 assists for his career and is more of an off-ball, scoring guard.
The Bulls drafted Wendell Carter, Jr. at #7 at the draft last month, and after a strong outing in Summer League, the big man certainly provides hope for a fearsome frontcourt going forward alongside Markkanen.
With LeBron going to the Western Conference, the East is even more wide open. Can the Bulls land a playoff spot this upcoming season?
LaVine should help the Bulls’ chances of making the postseason, and should have an easier time doing so in the East (compared to being on the Kings and trying to make the playoffs in the West).
There are still question marks regarding LaVine’s long-term health and if his knee will be a reoccurring problem. Especially with athleticism being one of the biggest parts of LaVine’s game, the Bulls have to hope that knee problems are a thing of the past.
Overall, being in the Eastern Conference and having the opportunity to be a leader should be good for LaVine. He has to embrace the role as a potential star and live up to the $80 million that Chicago has signed him to.