Zach LaVine, along with Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, is one of the biggest names to monitor over the upcoming NBA offseason.
LaVine will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, giving him the opportunity to leave the Chicago Bulls should his championship aspirations lay elsewhere.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, LaVine is eligible for a four-year, $157.4 million ($A219.4m) deal should he leave the Bulls.
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If he chooses to sign with Chicago though, he can do so for a maximum of $212.3 million ($A295.9m) over five years.
The Bulls may not be convinced that LaVine is that guy though, the one that can take them all the way to the title.
That is at least what Chicago sportscaster David Kaplan is hearing.
“There are some in the organization that want to give him [LaVine] the max,” he said on ‘The Kap & J. Hood Show’.
“There are others that feel like he does not have the ‘dog’ mentality it takes to win big. Solid player, good ball handler, good facilitator … solid player, great guy. Is he going to truly kill you when the game is on the line?
“Like Michael [Jordan] would kill his family to win. Kobe, may he Rest In Peace, same deal. There are some believe that Kevin Durant is a killer. Steph Curry is a killer. There are other guys that are really good players, not the dog mentality.”
Should LaVine be on the lookout for a new team next season, the Dallas Mavericks loom as one option according to NBA insider Marc Stein.
Writing in the most recent edition of his Substack newsletter, Stein revealed that there is a “growing belief around the league that LaVine has more interest in leaving Chicago than initially presumed’.
While the Hawks, Trail Blazers and Spurs have all been linked to the Bulls superstar, it is Luka Doncic and the Mavericks who could be an interesting suitor to watch according to Stein.
“Despite long-running speculation that the Mavericks hope to trade for Rudy Gobert, I’m told that an all-out pursuit of Utah’s All-Star center and defensive anchor is unlikely,” Stein wrote.
“As much as Cuban and GM Nico Harrison have openly acknowledged a pressing need to bolster their rim protection and rebounding, Dallas sees LaVine as the sort of player who could fill other crucial needs with his ability to both play off Dončić as a long-range shooter and likewise collapse defences by slashing to the basket to score.”
KNICKS FACING HURDLES IN POINT GUARD PURSUIT
Speaking of Utah, while Rudy Gobert is the more likely piece to be moved in the off-season should the Jazz look to shake up its roster, Donovan Mitchell is another option.
The New York Knicks have been linked to the Jazz star but according to The Bleacher Report’sJake Fischer, the chances of them acquiring him are “highly unlikely”.
That is not to say that the Knicks are not interested, they want to upgrade at point guard but it won’t come cheap if Mitchell is a top target.
After all, he still has three years left on his contract and the Knicks will therefore have plenty of competition for his signature.
Fischer floated a Miami package centred around Tyler Herro “plus other salary and multiple first-round picks” as an example of what the Knicks would be up against.
While Jalen Brunson could be another target for New York, Fischer reports there is a “growing sense among league personnel” that he will return to Dallas.
That sentiment is shared by Mavericks governor Mark Cuban, who told Stein last week that he thinks Brunson “wants to stay”.
“We can pay him more than anybody,” Cuban told Stein on Bally Sports Southwest.
“And I think he wants to stay and that’s most important.”
While there will be plenty of rival interest in Brunson, the Mavericks can both offer him a five-year deal and also exceed the salary cap by using Bird rights to re-sign him.
Brunson is expected to pocket over $20 million ($A27.9m) a season, with the possibility of that figure nearing $25 million ($A34.9m).
‘GREW DISSATISFIED’: POTENTIAL DRAMA AT TORONTO
The Toronto Raptors were one of the NBA’s big surprise packets this season but there could be drama brewing over the off-season.
That is at least according to Fischer, who claimed in The Bleacher Reportthat OG Anunoby “grew dissatisfied at times with his role in Toronto”.
It comes after a breakout season from Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, who became a primary ball-handler alongside Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet in the Raptors’ offence.
By the sounds of it though, there is not too much to worry about for Toronto — yet.
Fischer reports that two sources with “knowledge of the dynamic” told him that Anunoby is yet to “directly express” his frustrations to the franchise.
Obviously, having such information leaked publicly is not ideal anyway but Fischer questioned whether the rumours of discontent could be a product of rival interest in his services.
“Two landing spots already linked by league personnel have been Utah and Portland,” he reported.
There have already been reports that Portland is looking to use its No. 7 pick in this year’s draft on the trade table and Anunoby could be a key piece to help please Damian Lillard.
Utah, meanwhile, could also offer plenty to appease Toronto, including centre Gobert.
For the time being though, without Anunoby directly speaking to Toronto officials about his reported grievances, there appears to be no immediate threat of a trade.