All-Star guard Zach LaVine is staying with the Chicago Bulls after agreeing to a five-year, $215.2 million deal, his agency confirmed to Shams Charania on Friday. LaVine was the biggest free agent on the market, but there was little doubt he would leave the Bulls.
LaVine turned in another efficient season last year, averaging 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists, which earned him his second straight All-Star berth. He was part of a fearsome two-man attack with All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan as the two carried the load on offense for the Bulls. Though there were concerns over the fit of having both of them on this team when Chicago executed a trade for DeRozan last summer, Chicago’s success last season showed that this duo can coexist. It led to a 46-36 record and the Bulls’ first playoff appearance in five years. While the season didn’t end the way Chicago had hoped — losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Milwaukee Bucks — it was a promising starting point for a franchise that has struggled to remain consistent.
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With LaVine back in tow, the Bulls can focus on building upon last season’s success, something that could happen naturally with the return of starting point guard Lonzo Ball. Last season, Ball played in just 35 games due to a torn meniscus, and while there isn’t a timeline for a return, the Bulls will be an improved team when he comes back fully healthy.
Injuries were something that stalled Chicago’s early-season success last year as it entered the All-Star break with the second-best record in the East. But costly injuries to Ball, Alex Caruso and LaVine, who dealt with a nagging knee injury, slowed down the Bulls’ hot start.
With LaVine signing to a long-term deal, the Bulls will now need to capitalize on the next few years to position themselves as a championship contender. They have the assets to improve the roster around LaVine and DeRozan to get to that level; we’ll just have to wait and see if they can take advantage of that.