Chicago Bulls: Decision to match LaVine’s offer is easy

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bulls restricted free-agent guard Zach Lavine has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $80-million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings.

After about a week of waiting, Zach Lavine has made his decision. What will the Chicago Bulls do?

Lavine reportedly has agreed to a four-year, $80-million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings.

However, Lavine is a restricted free-agent, therefore the Bulls have exactly 48 hours to match the Kings offer. If the Bulls decide not to match, then Lavine will become a member of the Kings.

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LaVine was acquired last offseason from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade. Lavine played in just 24 games for the Bulls last season after suffering a torn ACL during the 2016-17 season.

In those 24 games, Lavine averaged 16.7 points per game, with 3.9 rebounds per game and 3 assists per game. Due in part to the injury, LaVine averaged just 27 minutes per game, a full ten minutes less than his average the previous season.

Regardless of last season’s performance, LaVine was the clear centerpiece of last seasons Jimmy Butler trade. After averaging 19 points per game for the Timberwolves in 2016-17, Lavine looked to be ready to break out as an elite scorer.

While Lavine didn’t quite follow up his previous breakout season in the best way, the Bulls decision whether to match the Kings offer sheet or not should be an easy one.

The Bulls have to match it. For two reasons.

For one, LaVine is still one of, if not the centerpiece of the Bulls rebuild. 24 games is certainly not enough playing time to judge a player on, so the Bulls would be wise to give him a full season to prove his worth.

Secondly, if the Bulls match the offer sheet, they don’t have to keep LaVine. Of course they could pass up matching the offer sheet completely if they don’t view LaVine as highly as they used to, but initiating a sign-and-trade would at least net the Bulls a return for him.

The Bulls gave up a perennial All-Star in Jimmy Butler for LaVine. It would be an absolute shame if the Bulls let LaVine walk after just 24 games.

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Yes, it certainly wouldn’t be cheap to keep him around. $20 million per year is no small cost, especially not for an unestablished player like LaVine.

But this Bulls rebuild isn’t going to come and go without some risky decisions. The Bulls need to make one of those decisions by matching the Kings offer for Zach Lavine.