The Chicago Bulls didn't take long to make their decision about restricted free agent guard Zach LaVine. As first reported by various outlets on Friday, the Bulls have officially matched the Sacramento Kings' four-year, $78M offer sheet for swingman Zach LaVIne. Via NBA.com/Bulls:
The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has exercised its right of first refusal and matched the offer sheet extended to guard Zach LaVine by the Sacramento Kings. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Best known for his high-flying dunks, LaVine was one of the key components in the deal that brought Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves last year. LaVine spent most of last season recovering from a torn ACL, but returned to average 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 24 games. The previous season was a breakout year for the 6-5 guard, when he averaged 18.9 points and made 39 percent of his 3-pointers for the Wolves before his knee injury.
LaVine expressed his frustration with the Bulls after signing the offer sheet with Sacramento.
"I'm disappointed that I had to get an offer sheet from another team," LaVine told ESPN. "But Sacramento stepped up and made a strong impression. It appears that Sacramento wants me more than Chicago."
Now that the 23-year-old will be a Bull for the considerable future, we'll see if there are any residual effects from the perceived insult.
LaVine has the upside to be an All-Star given his athleticism and shooting ability, particularly off the dribble. But his downside could outweigh the positives. LaVine is somewhat of a black hole on offense, rarely creating shots for his teammates, and he tends to dominate the ball. There are also major questions about his defensive ability on the wing, given his slight build and lack of consistent effort on that end.
It was a big swing for the Kings, who already have a crowded young backcourt with De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic. After drafting Marvin Bagley No. 2 overall in June's NBA Draft, the Kings were clearly banking on LaVine's star potential to lead them forward.
Four years is a long time and $78 million is a lot of money, however -- Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported that this is the richest guaranteed non-max deal of the 2018 offseason so far -- so the Kings might have received a blessing in disguise if LaVine never regains his bounce after his injury or if he tops out as a heat-check bench scorer.