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Zach LaVine’s eye-opening demand to the Bulls as free agency opens

Bulls, Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has turned into the most coveted piece of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves back in 2017. The Chicago Bulls guard is still with the team and has developed into an all-star caliber player. Now, with LaVine due for a new contract extension, he has made his side very clear, via ESPN.

“I just want my respect, that’s the main thing,” LaVine said Monday after practice ahead of Team USA’s quarterfinal game against Spain set for Tuesday.

“I outplayed my contract. I’ve been very loyal to Chicago. I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If that’s now or later, it’s something we’ve got to work out internally.”

The Bulls’ cornerstone piece has certainly done just that as he’s evolved into a dynamic player in Chicago. At just 26-years-old, LaVine could hit free agency next summer if he and Chicago can’t come to an agreement. The problem for the Bulls could be finding enough cap space to make it all work. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN notes, it could put the Bulls in a tough spot.

LaVine, 26, has one season left on his contract at $19.5 million. The Bulls are limited in how much they can extend for him based on that number, which at most would come out to a deal that could reach up to $105 million over four years. That figure, however, is likely below LaVine’s market value…It leaves the Bulls in a position where they might have to decide between upgrading the roster via free agency or securing their franchise player.

Whatever the Bulls decide to do, it’s tough imagining a scenario where they don’t exhaust every resource they have in trying to lock up LaVine with the franchise for the long run.