Enjoy Zach LaVine now Bulls fans; he may be gone sooner than later
With Year 3 of the rebuild completely off the tracks, the timeline for the Bulls guard being a focal point and face of the franchise has also changed. LaVine could play his final two years of his current contract and bolt town, and who would blame him.
It’s become the Zach LaVine mantra.
“I know what I represent, and I know who I am,’’ the Bulls guard has insisted over and over again, whether talking about an All-Star snub or just his place in the current NBA hierarchy.
The kind of self-assessment that may leave some rolling their eyes.
They would be wrong for doing that.
The LaVine that the Bulls acquired back in 2017 is not the LaVine they have now. The fact that he can fall out of bed and score 25 in an NBA game is the same, but the maturity he’s shown in becoming the face of the franchise has been refreshing to watch.
The problem is don’t get too used to it. LaVine is signed through the 2021-22 season. He will be 27 years old, likely in the prime of his career, and considering the current state of the Bulls, he will be looking to go elsewhere if he has any sense to him.
This season has all but dictated that LaVine will want to be elsewhere — money be damned.
This rebuild has not only gone off the tracks, but no longer matches up with LaVine and his skillset. On paper, the Bulls had it mapped out that the 2019-20 season would be a push to the backend of the Eastern Conference playoffs, next season would then be a further leap, as well as the selling point for the elite free agent class of 2021.
The hope was the Bulls could grab a superstar, make LaVine the No. 2 option, and have Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. right there on that second tier of NBA stardom.
Grab that piece of paper this was drawn out on, and find the lighter to help the dumpster fire it will surely ignite.
The front office is positioned to get an overhaul when this season ends, which means possibly a new vision and direction. With that could also be a complete reboot of the coaching staff, which also means LaVine and Co. would have to figure out a new system for next season.
It would be his sixth head coach in his six NBA seasons.
Six NBA seasons in which LaVine has also never seen the postseason. That’s wearing on him.
“I’ve done a lot of losing my whole career,’’ LaVine told reporters after the Thursday loss to Charlotte. “I’ve been frustrated from the get-go, so I want that to change.’’
It’s not going to change with the Bulls, at least not on the timeline LaVine was hoping it would.
The other factor that has been weighing on the former first-round pick? Not only does he want to win, but he also wants to better his brand.
In LaVine’s estimation the 11th-highest scoring player in the league should not have been sitting in the stands for the All-Star Game on Sunday.
When the reserves were selected by the NBA coaches, however, it was another slap in the face of how important winning is in this league.
Still, he came out against the Hornets and did what he could to try and carry an undermanned, under-talented roster.
“This is our job, this is our dream job,’’ LaVine said. “It’s a tough situation, nobody likes being in a losing situation but you get to see who’s fighting with you and who’s not, too.’’
LaVine meets with the media whenever asked, rarely avoids a question, and at the same time has stayed clear of firing on the organization or his teammates, despite his obvious frustration in this mess.
He deserves better.
And he may soon be getting his wish.
NOTE: Otto Porter Jr. (left foot), Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and Denzel Valentine (hamstring) each practiced on Friday and were game-time decisions for Saturday.
Source : Joe Cowley Link