Zach LaVine has the backing of DeMar DeRozan in the one big payday coming up in his career.
Shortly after the Chicago Bulls were officially eliminated in the postseason by the reigning champs in Milwaukee Bucks, DeRozan expressed his support on the possible long-term stay of LaVine in the Windy City.
The veteran swingman believes that his fellow star in the team deserves a max contract offer from the Bulls this offseason.
“Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything,” DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is deserving enough to receive a max offer, via NBC Sports’ Rob Schaefer. “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.”
The two-time All-star will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer. As such, he is eligible to ink a five-year, $200 million deal with Chicago — and it’ll even get higher once he reaches an All-NBA team this season.
But an extended partnership can only be determined once the Bulls offer him that kind of max salary. Meanwhile, he is eligible to ink with other teams a lower offer around $160 million in four years.
DeRozan didn’t deny that LaVine was one of the factors that made him decide to go to the Bulls this season via a sign-and-trade pact with the San Antonio Spurs. He has nothing but praise on the development of their on and off-court brotherhood for the past few months.
“It developed great. It was quick. It was something that developed in the summer before we even got to training camp,” DeRozan said of his friendship with LaVine. “We spent a lot of time together working out. We flew from [Los Angeles] to Chicago a few times, just me and him having conversations on the plane.
“We had a lot of dialogue before we even stepped out there on the court and that kind of set the foundation from there.”
This regular season, LaVine had an average of 24.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 47 percent shooting from the field. Together with DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, he helped the Bulls compile 46 wins and reach the league’s playoff arena for the second time in seven years.
Though they came up short against the Bucks, this season serves as a great scratch for the franchise to draw a grand picture for years to come.
DeRozan is confident and delighted to work with LaVine, and he is hoping that he can rejoin the team for next year.
“(He’s) just the ultimate competitor,” DeRozan said. “That’s the best way I can sum it up. No matter what it is. I remember, we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him and he wouldn’t leave me alone until he beat me. And that’s just him on the court as well.”