During the course of free agency, theres been a lot of talk about Zach Lavine. A lot of talk was based around the amount of money that the Bulls should match to retain Lavine, if he signed another teams offer sheet. Bulls beat writer Nick Friedell tweeted that he personally wouldn’t go much higher than a 4 year $60 million contract.

His reasons being that nobody knows what type of player Lavine will be, and not being sold that he’s worth a big investment from Chicago. Lavine himself replied to Friedell’s tweet, with a simple laughing emjoi.

Lavine wasn’t the only one who disagreed with Friedell, as the Sacramento Kings signed Lavine to an offer sheet of 4 years at $78 million. The Bulls now had two options, match the Kings offer sheet and retain Lavine for $78 million, or let him walk for nothing, and become a member of the Kings.

Despite several reports that Lavine has lost support amongst Chicago’s brass, the Bulls would match and keep Lavine in the Windy City.

Lavine who came to the Bulls as part of 2017 draft night trade, from the Minnesota Timberwolves along with teammate Kris Dunn and a right to the #7 pick(which turned out to be Lauri Markkanen) for Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler. At the time Lavine was recovering from a torn ACL, but was still thought to be the center piece of this trade.

After all, just before he got hurt, he was averaging 19 points a game on 45% shooting from the field and 38% from deep along with 3.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game at 21 years of age. Many saw his potential of becoming an elite scorer.

But after the stellar rookie season of Markkanen, many feel that the Finnisher will become the superstar that Bulls are looking for, and that the offense should be run through him, instead of Lavine.

I myself agree that the number 1 option for the Bulls on offense should be Markkanen. But that doesn’t mean Lavine agrees, and that he won’t do his best to prove that he should be the go to guy. After returning from rehabbing his ACL and being shut down to improve the Bulls tanking efforts, Lavine only managed to play 24 games last season.

He averaged 17 points per game on 38% shooting from the field and 34% from deep, along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game.

This isn’t bad considering, he was fresh off an ACL tear, missed training camp and his offseason work outs were focused on rehabbing his knee. This season will be different, Lavine is healthy, fully recovered from the ACL tear. Ready to start training camp, and his offseason workouts began the next day after the Bulls season came to an end.

Lavine knows the expectations that will fall on him this season, he knows all eyes will be on him, to see if he can live up to his new contract, if he can become the #1 option of a contending team. So he’s pushing himself and putting in work.

Work that was displayed over the weekend in a Pro-Am pick up game hosted by Jamal Crawford. Lavine dropped 50 points, dishes out 3 assists and pulled down 9 rebounds. Scoring on floaters, step backs, pull up 3’s, and the high flying dunks that propelled him to back to back slam dunk championships at the 2015 and 2016 NBA All Star Weekend.

At one point, he pulled off a in between the legs dunk with no effort at all, showcasing the ACL tear did not rob him of his athletic ability or his hops. One can only hope that he will be able to put on scoring outbursts like this, in a Bulls uniform this season.

Offensive talent aside, a big knock is on Lavine’s defense, which Zach has admitted to be lost and caught unaware at times. He knows he must get better on that side of the ball. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg, has said that he has come up with a new defensive strategy, that Lavine should be able to fit in with.

I’m not convinced that Lavine will ever turn in to a two way talent of a Jimmy Butler. But if he can at least become competent of defense, while continuing to improve his offense, maybe just maybe, he will grow into the superstar that the Bulls need.

Or maybe he proves that he’s better off as the 2nd option on this team. Either way Lavine is ready to show and prove, just exactly what he can do.

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