Why Zach LaVine is unlikely to leave the Chicago Bulls in free agency

Just as it was four years ago, this is the summer of Zach LaVine for the Chicago Bulls. Except, four years ago, LaVine was no where the level of star he is now.

Going into this offseason, LaVine is now set to enter unrestricted free agency. Back in 2018, he was a restricted free agent. Thus, when he received an offer from the Sacramento Kings, the Bulls were able to match it, keeping him in Chicago.

Many things have changed in four years, though, and some of them for the better. Four years ago, LaVine was coming back to a team in Chicago which was headed no where. He was ‘the man,’ sure, but he wasn’t going to be part of a winning culture anytime soon.

Just last year, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley worked hard to bring winning basketball back to Chicago. Now, LaVine faces a difficult decision ahead. Does he entertain leaving Chicago and potentially take less money? Or, do the Bulls get to keep their man?

Zach LaVine will enjoy free agency, but he is unlikely to leave the Chicago Bulls.

When looking at LaVine’s free agency this summer, one has to realize the facts. And, the facts are: hardly any team would have the cap space to sign LaVine to a max deal. For that reason, this summer may actually be a tough one for any team to lure in a max free agent.

At the moment, the only team that could sign LaVine to a max deal is the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now, the most rumored team to possibly land LaVine is, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. The possibility of joining LeBron James in L.A. has to be a tempting one to LaVine, who originally played his college ball out at UCLA. His ties to the West coast could come into play, here.

But, not even the Lakers could afford LaVine at this point.

Last year, the Lakers executed a trade for Russell Westbrook — and more than likely did so because of LeBron’s desire to add the veteran point guard. He has become more of a GM in L.A. than anything, lately.

Now, if the Lakers wanted LaVine, they would have to trade Westbrook just a year after acquiring him. Not only would they have to trade Westbrook, but they’d have to figure out how to trade Kendrick Nunn and Talen Horton-Tucker, per the above referenced piece from Bleacher Report.

Even after doing all of that, the Lakers wouldn’t be guaranteed LaVine. Remember, LaVine can make roughly $70 million more by staying in Chicago than he could if he signed with another team.

Sure, enjoying his free agency experience is big for LaVine. It’s something every player would love to do, being a highly-coveted player on the open market. But, when it’s all said and done, it’s highly unlikely LaVine goes anywhere else.