Posted 6 months ago
"He's gone," LaVar matter-of-factly said when asked in a recent interview with David Kaplan whether he believes Zach LaVine will re-sign with the Bulls this offseason.
"They're gonna love him in LA," LaVar said.
For the first time in his NBA career, LaVine is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. As he said in his end-of-season exit interview with reporters, he plans to approach that process with an open mind.
Although the Bulls, through the words of executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas, reaffirmed their desire to retain LaVine long-term on that same day, the now two-time All-Star guard has a lot more leverage than when he was a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018. Then, LaVine inked a four-year, $78 million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings that the Bulls' previous front office regime later matched.
That contract quickly turned into an underpay, a dynamic LaVine has been acutely aware of for years.
LaVar's argument for predicting LaVine to the Lakers is multi-pronged. For one, he speculates LaVine has grown unhappy playing sidekick to DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls' leading scorer and go-to playmaker in the clutch. LaVar also noted LaVine's West Coast roots — he hails from Seattle — and the marketing opportunities that come with playing in Los Angeles.
"It started off 'Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine, Zach LaVine.' OK, now you're hurt. Few things happen. And guess who's doing all the big plays? All I hear is DeMar," LaVar said. "He (LaVine) doesn't want to play second fiddle.
"And who doesn't want to go to LA? (If) he (LaVine) wants to go back to the west coast, he'd be like, 'Yeah, I'm from [Seattle]' ... If he got a chance to go there? I guarantee you he ain't no fool. Because he's like this: 'I'm in LA, even when I get paid, I know I can do some commercials or something.'"
The degree of validity of that argument remains to be seen.
But in the event LaVine does walk this summer, the Ball brothers' father has a simple solution for the Bulls.
"You (would) need another scorer, and don't think 'Gelo can't score better than Zach," LaVar said, referencing his middle child, LiAngelo Ball, who averaged 6.4 points in 23 games with the Charlotte Hornets' G League affiliate last season.
Tags: NBA Free Agent Rumors Chicago Bulls Los Angeles Lakers Zach LaVine