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Bulls give guard Zach LaVine qualifying offer

The Chicago Bulls are in the midst of the rebuilding process of the franchise that is centered around their young promising talent. One of those key pieces to the puzzle is guard Zach LaVine, who is set to hit the free agent market this offseason for the first time in his career.

According to Keith Smith of RealGM, the Bulls have made the expected move by offering LaVine a qualifying offer that will now make him a restricted free agent this summer.

This has long been anticipated as being the direction that Chicago would head with him given his importance to the future of the franchise. He was the centerpiece in the draft day deal last year that sent All-Star forward Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although his first season with the team was delayed a bit due to his recovery from a torn ACL, he had shown plenty of promise on the court after he made his return.

In 24 games played, he averaged 16.7 points with 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. This included scoring in double figures 19 times with 11 contests with at least 20-points while reaching more than 10 points in 10 straight games. He did struggle with scoring efficiently at times, but there was much comfort from his end in terms of taking over the leading scorer role while forming a promising duo alongside rookie Lauri Markkanen.

What could become quite interesting is the value that LaVine has on the open market as the Sacramento Kings are believed to be ready to take a serious run at landing him. This could significantly drive up the price tag for the Bulls to keep him in the fold. The benefit that Chicago has is that they can match any offer on him that gives them the final say if they will retain LaVine or not.