Bulls still confident Zach LaVine will re-sign, even with KD chaos

The Bulls had a plan going into Thursday’s free-agent period.

Then again, all 30 teams had a plan.

Kevin Durant took all those plans, however, carried them to center stage, and all but set them ablaze.

With the two-time Finals MVP stealing the day by making it known that he wanted to be traded out of Brooklyn, business as usual quickly fell to the wayside, as teams tried to reposition themselves to at least make an offer for Durant.

According to a source, the Bulls were included in that line of phone calls, despite Durant reportedly putting Miami and Phoenix atop his desired destinations.

And while the reality of the situation was that the Bulls don’t have the profile of player or the quality of desired draft picks the Nets were looking for in a return package, it was more about the organization doing its due diligence.

It also didn’t interfere with the Bulls’ main objective on Day 1 of free agency – which was to meet with unrestricted free agent Zach LaVine about a max contract that would keep him in Chicago for at least the next five years.

Sources said that the Bulls remained confident that their price tag of nearly $215 million – the most any team could offer – would be agreed upon by LaVine, with the two-time All-Star wanting to hear all offers and be deliberate in the process.

The very approach LaVine admitted he would take.

A steep price for the Bulls to pay?

Absolutely, but also the price of business for an NBA franchise still trying to clean up an image that had resembled a dumpster fire for years.

When executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas took over in 2020, the Bulls had a reputation as a place where coaches were mistreated.

The hiring of Billy Donovan put that to rest.

It was a former front office that was lacking the creativity to snag a big-name trade candidate.

The acquisition of Nikola Vucevic started to change that.

A place that couldn’t attract All-Star-caliber talent?

Welcome in DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball in last offseason’s sign-and-trades.

And maybe the most damaging, it was a Gar/Pax-run front office that didn’t take care of its own. A player like Jimmy Butler did all the right things in becoming a superstar talent, and felt he was lied to on the evening he was traded to Minnesota.

In that regard, the pending LaVine signing is bigger than just adding an elite scorer who has improved in almost every category since becoming a Bull back in 2017. It’s the Karnisovas-led front office serving notice to the league and its players that doing the right thing to improve matters to them. It will be awarded.

That doesn’t mean that if LaVine signs soon it changes where the Bulls are in the power structure of the Eastern Conference. But the offer itself continued changing their reputation league-wide, which may have a bigger payoff years down the road.

What it does presently is hopefully keep the face of the franchise in a city he has embraced since arriving in the Butler draft-night deal.

Which is what both LaVine and his core teammates were petitioning for since the season ended in a first-round playoff loss.

“Max player, max talent, max everything,” veteran DeMar DeRozan said of LaVine in his exit interview. “He’s one of those players in this league that you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he’s able to do. He deserves everything that’s coming to him for sure.”

What the Bulls did get done on Thursday was addressing their rebounding issues, agreeing on a two-year, $6.6 million deal with veteran big man Andre Drummond. Year 2 of the deal was reportedly a player option.

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