Earlier this month, restricted free agent Zach LaVine signed an offer sheet worth four years and $78 million with the Sacramento Kings.
The Chicago Bulls didn’t waste any time before they matched the offer.
Therefore, he was instantly solidified as a major centerpiece of Chicago’s long-term outlook.
According to LaVine, that’s exactly what he wanted to happen.
“I never wanted to leave, that’s the main thing. But business is business,” LaVine said, per Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago. “The offer sheet happened and thank God the Bulls matched it. That’s exactly what we wanted to happen. I never wanted it to get to that point.”
LaVine was traded to Chicago from the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the Jimmy Butler deal last summer. But, an injury limited him to just 24 regular-season contests for the Bulls last season. In those games, he averaged 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 27.3 minutes.
It’s worth noting that his minutes were restricted in the hopes of easing him back into action and therefore his numbers were distorted. But, nonetheless, he recently made it clear that he wants to be the unquestioned leader of the Bulls in the upcoming season and beyond.
The go-to guy
“Obviously that’s what you work for. I put all this hard work in not to be second fiddle,” LaVine told Goodwill. “Not saying there’s something wrong with that. There’s a lot of successful Hall of Famers that were second fiddle. Second options, third options. You come here, you put all this work in, that’s what you want.”
He is aware of the fact that he couldn’t walk in and assume a leadership role as a 22 year old last season. Plus, he was held out for most of the year.
“You can’t come in halfway through the season, be the straight-up leader of the team,” LaVine noted. “You ain’t played half the year. You got to get to know everybody. I feel like now I have my feet in the water.”
He believes as though his status as a gym rat will make a statement to his teammates.
“It’s a tough situation but you can still be a leader off the court: be at practices, at film, showing the people how hard you’re working. That’s the main thing, I showed how I worked. I’m around the same age as everybody, so we all get along,” he explained.
It will be interesting to see whether or not LaVine becomes the face of the Bulls. Since youngsters Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen had breakout seasons last year and the team added Jabari Parker in free agency and Wendell Carter Jr. in the draft, there are seemingly a lot of mouths to feed offensively.
That might not bode well for LaVine, who is known for solely being a volume scorer.