CHICAGO – All-star goalkeeper Chicago Bulls remain optimistic Zach Lavigne He will choose to re-sign with them rather than join another team as an unrestricted free agent.
Executive Vice President Arturas Karnisovas has been consistent in saying publicly that the organization wants to keep LaVine. He did so again on Monday.
Karnisovas said at a press conference to present the first round of selection Dalene Terry.
Lavigne’s situation is clearly the biggest story hovering over the bulls, with the free-agent negotiation period opening Thursday night.
Karnisovas wants to keep the core that helped Chicago reach the playoffs for the first time in five years.
LaVine averaged 24.4 points and made the All-Star Team second in a row last season. He finished with his first trip to the playoffs in his eighth year as a professional. The Bulls lost in the first round to Milwaukee in five games.
Lavigne’s four-year, $78 million contract has expired, and he said after the season that he plans to explore the market as an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career after five years in Chicago. He has not ruled out a return to the Bulls, who can offer a contract worth a maximum of $212 million. The most he can get from another team is about $157 million over four years.
How comfortable the Bulls are about offering a five-year deal is another question. Karnisovas played it timid when asked.
“I’m confident. I’m confident dealing with this free agency for the next couple of days, sitting down with our group, and looking at a lot of things,” he said.
Last season wasn’t easy for LaVine. He dealt with a thumb injury early on and has been in and out of the squad for the past few months with a left knee injury.
Lavigne underwent a platelet-rich plasma treatment, cortisone injections and knee drained fluids in Los Angeles before the All-Star break. He had laparoscopic surgery last month.
“I think he’ll be healthy,” Karnisovas said. “I think he’s progressing really well now.”
The Bulls went 46-36 and performed the playoffs for the first time since 2017 after a major turnaround, with Demar DeRozan And LaVine leads the way. Chicago got off to a big start and finished with their best record since a 2014-2015 team win 50-32 in former coach Tom Tibodo’s final season.
The Bulls also went from leading the Eastern Conference to sixth, losing 15 of their last 22 regular season games. They dealt with a long list of injuries, which made it difficult for them to develop continuity and compete with the best teams.
“This group has only been here since October,” Karnisovas said. “We’re still trying to get a feel for how we play with each other.”
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