Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine spoke for the first time since signing his new five-year, $215 million max contract to stay in the Windy City Monday. In addressing the media, the two-time All-Star made four important points that highlight positive signs heading into the next season.
LaVine loves being in Chicago
At his final interview of the 2022 season, LaVine stated that he would consider all options when free agency began June 30. Once it started, it took 18 hours before reports flew in emphasizing his commitment to re-signing with the Bulls.
Aside from having 215 million reasons to doing so, according to LaVine, the Bulls offered everything he could ask for, including having input on the roster as a cornerstone piece of the franchise moving forward. That helped LaVine in not wanting to take any meetings with other teams, paving the way for the Bulls to bring their franchise player home with a celebration dinner that included some expensive wine.
“Chicago is my home,” LaVine said to open the press conference. “I’ve been here for five years and we’ve built something over the last two-three years. To come back as a cornerstone piece and allowing them to get some of my insight and input in constructing the roster to help us win was really big for me.”
The front office duo of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley made it very clear to LaVine that he is their future and his input mattered. With his commitment for the next five years, they knew that they needed his support in putting together their plan for the future, something that the Bulls needed entering a situation that has never been done before in signing a max-player over a $100 million.
LaVine believes in AKME’s Vision
AKME has stated the entire offseason that they wanted continuity with the core players and run it back for at least next season with everyone on the team healthy. In order for that to happen, AKME needed LaVine to sign off on their vision/plans moving forward, which he did.
“Marc and AK have big plans for the future,” LaVine said. “When we were talking about my contract, that is what we were talking about. Obviously within the next year or so with the guys on the team and bringing them back, but we needed to upgrade and I think we tried to do go out there and do it just like everybody else.”
LaVine is showing faith in AKME’s vision of the roster currently and in the future, including having faith that the team can stay healthy next season and make some noise even as the Eastern Conference improves. This is a big deal for the next steps that the Bulls want to take over the coming years.
LaVine’s Knee is Coming Back Full Strength
LaVine injured his knee during the second half of last season that kept him from playing his full potential, adding to the long list of injuries the team suffered. He solved that issue by getting his knee scoped and is currently back on the court playing while rehabbing the knee, preparing for next season.
“You have to start slow, but it’s been good and I feel good,” LaVine said. “The next two months I’m getting back into the season and I feel like I’ll be even better.”
LaVine Taking on Bigger Leadership Role On and Off the Court
LaVine made various points throughout the conference regarding leadership. He praised Patrick Williams for going to Vegas, California and Chicago for constantly working out to improve his game, but he called for everyone on the roster to take the next steps in improving their game, bringing something different to the team for next season.
While holding everyone accountable for improvement heading into training camp, he also made it a priority for him to build chemistry with his new teammates. He reached out to new Bulls center Andre Drummond and discussed working out together in Orange County.
LaVine also reached out to congratulate new Bulls point guard Goran Dragic to the team and met with Bulls rookie guard Dalen Terry.
He’s immersing himself into being a franchise leader and embracing his new solidified role.
Off the court, he is taking on another role of leadership as a father, with him and his wife expecting their first child.
“I’m extremely excited,” LaVine said. “The relationship that I have with my father, I’m looking forward to taking on that challenge and seeing what that part of my life is. That’s bigger than basketball.”