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Zach LaVine determined to prove critics wrong by living up to contract

Zach LaVine

The Chicago Bulls managed to match a strong offer from the Sacramento Kings, a hefty four-year, $78 million agreement with an injury clause which would protect the franchise in case the torn ACL suffered at the middle of the 2016-17 season could have lingering implications in his career.

Many fans have disagreed with the size of the contract doled out to LaVine, as he was expected to improve on his career-best season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. LaVine posted a respectable 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 24 appearances with the Bulls — but he is expecting to improve on those and address his criticism with rousing success after the franchise handsomely rewarded him with a new deal.

“People (are going) to put their own opinions on things, or everybody on social media, they try to judge you,” LaVine told reporters Sunday night in Las Vegas in his first comments since the contract with the Bulls became official, according to Sam Smith of Bulls.com. “I’m my hardest critic. There’s nothing that any of you (media) guys can say to me that I (don’t) take harder upon myself. I go back and critique my game every year.”

LaVine had improved every season he spent with the Timberwolves, going from a freakishly athletic dynamo to a wing that combines airborne acrobatics with devastating 3-point shooting. The Washington native is now chomping at the bit, hoping this contract will motivate him to prove his doubters wrong.

“I’m used to people sleeping on me, and I’m also used to waking them up as well,” said LaVine. “I’m happy that I have this contract, and I’m happy that I have a little extra motivation to go out there and prove it to some people that don’t believe in me. At the end of the day, I believe in myself, I believe in my work, and I’m going to show the city of Chicago it’s a good choice and I’m here to stay.”

“I’m going to be their guy, and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team get back to that (championship) spot.”

The Bulls are banking on LaVine and soon-to-be second-year forward Lauri Markkanen to become the next building blocks of this rebuilding franchise, and they’ve translated that faith into a long-term commitment, one they hope will soon pay off.