The Big News: Zach LaVine will return to the Chicago Bulls next season! The Sacramento Kings offered him a very generous 4 year, $78 million contract which the Bulls quickly matched. There had been a lot of speculation among fans regarding how much money was too much money for a player like LaVine. Sure, his offensive ability is top notch, but his defense is worse than below average. He is still trying to prove he has recovered from his ACL tear, and since returning to game action, he has demonstrated much of that explosive, pre-injury speed and athleticism. LaVine is a conundrum.
What do you do when you are unsure of a players market value? The Bulls, quite astutely, adopted a “wait and see” approach. With LaVine a restricted free agent, in an offseason where a limited number of teams had money to spend, it didn’t make financial sense for the Bulls to offer him a large contract, especially without knowing if any other team was interested in his services. The Bulls were in the free agency cat-bird seat, they could match any offer LaVine received. If no offers were made, it was highly likely they would be able to sign him to a cheap deal, preserving their precious “cap flexibility” for next summers free agency.
Fortunately for LaVine, another team was interested in his services.
Enter the Sacramento Kings. They knew exactly how much LaVine was worth and extended him the previously mentioned 4 year contract, which he gladly signed. With Sacramento’s offer sheet signed, the Bulls had 48 hours to decide if the “how much” was indeed “too much.” It wasn’t. It didn’t take much more than an hour for the news to leak; the Bulls had matched the Kings offer sheet, Zach LaVine was coming back to Chicago.
Fans and media types have been hemming and hawing about the contract from the moment the Kings offer sheet was signed. Should the Bulls spend that much money on LaVine? It remains to be seen if he will live up to his contract. The Bulls felt it was a fair deal, and didn’t see it as restricting their cap flexibility too much. Remember, there is no guarantee that they will land a top free agent next summer, let alone two, so spending a little more money than expected to keep LaVine isn’t the end of the world. LaVine’s return takes pressure off of the front office to sign those top free agents next summer. His return might even entice a player to seriously consider playing for the Bulls. For now, let’s be happy Zach is back in the fold. Let’s hope he plays some good defense and meshes with his teammates.
Deal includes Bulls guard Jerian Grant to Magic, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/vxbM1kXKZy
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 8, 2018
In other news, Jerian Grant is no longer a Chicago Bull. He has been traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a three team deal. The Bulls received Julyan Stone in return for Grant. Everything points to them releasing Stone. He is on a non-guaranteed contract and it will free up more cap space.
In related news, David Nwaba has yet to sign with anyone. As the LaVine contract will cost the Bulls nearly $20 million a year, it looks less and less likely that they will re-sign Nwaba. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.
The Other Big News: Wendell Carter Jr. is having a terrific Summer League. He has blocked 10 shots in 3 games earning him the internet nickname “The Block Panther.” He has also played some strong perimeter defense against NBA-adjacent talent. His lateral quickness, a much ballyhooed weakness of his, has held up against smaller, quicker, and more agile players. He has stayed out of foul trouble (not that that’s a thing in Summer League), and been very active on both ends of the court. He has hit 3 pointers, mid rangers, free throw, lay ups, slam dunks, and put backs. He is fluid and confident. He is ready for the NBA.
Chandler Hutchison is not having a terrific Summer League. He is having a very ho-hum Summer League. He has shown flashes of brilliance, especially as a facilitator, but he has also made a lot of rookie mistakes and bad turnovers. I’m not too worried about it. If his journey to the NBA is any indicator, Hutch needs time to grow into his role. He is a slow starter who works his way up to greatness. He has all the tools to be a solid NBA player, he just needs time to understand how this new level of competition works, and how he fits in it. I believe he will figure it out. When he is finally confident and comfortable in the NBA, teams will dread facing Carter and Hutch (I’m going to make this a thing).
The Summer League Bulls are a disappointing 1-2 with at least another game left. Enjoy the highlights…