K.C. Johnson: Bulls remain confident they'll retain Zach LaVine as speculation intensifies

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(670 The Score) The biggest question hovering over the Bulls’ offseason is whether star guard Zach LaVine will return to Chicago when he hits unrestricted free agency.

LaVine, 27, has spoken highly of his time with the Bulls and can receive the most money by re-signing with Chicago, but speculation has intensified in recent days after the NBA Draft Combine that he could have eyes elsewhere. At his season-ending media session in late April, LaVine indicated that he plans to take visits and calls from other teams when free agency opens and that he’ll need to weigh all his options when deciding what’s best for him.
He also stopped short of calling the Bulls the front-runner when asked.

“I have to make my list and talk to everybody,” LaVine said.

So what should we expect to happen? K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago joined the Mully & Haugh Show on Tuesday morning to discuss LaVine’s future.

“The safe bet is still that Zach will return (to Chicago),” Johnson said.

He offered that with a caveat though.

“I’m just reporting what I was hearing at the Combine – and that is multiple people connected to other teams, agents, etc., the chatter at that Combine, the representation of that chatter is that Zach is very much in play,” Johnson said. “Now that said, the Bulls are still very confident in their ability to re-sign Zach LaVine. Michael Reinsdorf has said it. Arturas Karnisovas has said it. They still have the power to pay him more than any other franchise.”

LaVine can sign a five-year deal worth up to $212 million with the Bulls. He’s eligible to sign a four-year deal worth around $157 million with outside suitors if they open up maximum cap space. A sign-and-trade is also a possibility, a route that could allow LaVine to get to the destination he desires and the Bulls to get compensation in return.

“The fact that he’s going to look at other teams legitimately is serious,” Johnson said. “I think the fact that other teams are going to make an aggressive bid to get him is serious. And I think the fact that the Bulls are very confident that they’re going to retain him are all serious, are all simultaneously (true). It’s going to be a fascinating free agency in July.”

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