Chicago Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine has turned his four-year, $78 million deal into a bargain thanks to his massive improvement since returning from an ACL injury in the 2017-18 season. LaVine is now one of the best scorers in the NBA, and the expectation is he'll be looking for max money on his next contract.
Or maybe not?
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports rumblings of LaVine potentially taking a “slight discount” in order to help bring more talent to Chicago:
The Sun-Times, as well as several other media outlets, reported at the start of the 2020-21 campaign that it was important for LaVine to be given max money moving forward. However, there are several sources who said that might not be the case any longer, as adding key role players around him could persuade LaVine to give the Bulls a slight discount.
This is all very vague, so it's unclear just what a “slight discount” actually means. As of right now, the Bulls are limited in the extension they can offer LaVine in the offseason (four years and roughly $105 million) unless they use cap space to offer a bigger one. There's no chance he'd take that standard extension, but perhaps he'd be willing to negotiate a more lucrative deal using that cap space without hurting Chicago's ability to improve the roster too much, though that would be tricky given the current cap situation.
Or maybe this means LaVine will simply be willing to take less on a deal when he hits unrestricted free agency in 2022. He's in line to be eligible for a five-year deal worth over $200 million. It's unclear if the Bulls are currently interested in even offering that full-blown max, but given the trade for Nikola Vucevic, it does seem like this new front office is buying in on LaVine has a top-tier guy.
LaVine should be looking to cash in. Nobody should begrudge him for doing that, especially after playing on a smaller deal and still not winning anything over the last few seasons. If he's willing to sign for a discount, though, more power to him.