DeMar DeRozan on Zach LaVine: “Max player, max talent” originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Now that the Chicago Bulls’ the season is officially over, a potentially busy offseason can begin in earnest.
And one of the main agendas will be the impending unrestricted free agency of Zach LaVine.
LaVine just completed the final season of the four-year, $78 million offer sheet he signed with the Sacramento Kings and Bulls in the summer of 2018. While some shivered at the average annual salary of this contract worth $19.5 million at the time, LaVine quickly surpassed that dollar figure and is now poised for a big payday.
What size? Assuming he doesn’t crack an All-NBA team, the Bulls can offer LaVine a maximum five-year contract that starts with a salary of 30% of the league’s salary cap and exceeds $200 million in total value.
That’s a lot of dough. And in the opinion of the All-Star teammate DeMar DeRozanLaVine is worth every penny.
“Yeah. Max player, max talent, all max,” DeRozan said when asked if LaVine was a worthy player after the Bulls’ loss to the Bucks on Wednesday night. “He’s one of those players in this league you don’t see too often. I tell him all the time how much I’m envious of the things he’s capable of doing. He deserves everything he gets. happens, that’s for sure.”
DeRozan has repeatedly said that LaVine played a role in signing him to the Bulls last offseason. The relationship between the two only blossomed during their first year playing together.
“It developed well. It was quick. It’s something that developed in the summer before we even got to training camp,” DeRozan said of his bond with LaVine. “We spent a lot of time training together. We flew from [Los Angeles] in Chicago a couple of times, just me and him having conversations on the plane… We had a lot of dialogue before we even got out in the field and that kind of laid the groundwork from there. Everything else kind of carried over once we got on the pitch.”
Indeed, the duo enjoyed remarkable success on the field early in the season as the Bulls rose to the top of the Eastern Conference. But underperformance against the NBA’s elite and injuries, including knee pain that plagued LaVine from mid-January, then contributed to an upside-down run, which culminated in a 46-36 regular season record (sixth-best in the conference) and a gentleman’s sweep of the first round of the playoffs.
Still, DeRozan was won over by LaVine’s competitiveness — from his exploits on the field to his friendly fights on the team plane.
“(He’s) just the ultimate contender,” DeRozan said of LaVine. “That’s the best way I can sum it up. Whatever it is. I remember we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him up and he wouldn’t let me not quiet until he beats me. And that’s just him on the pitch too.”
From what he hears, DeRozan wouldn’t mind competing with him for years. That’s on the condition that LaVine and the Bulls come together on a long-term pact.