DeMar DeRozan on Zach LaVine: 'Max player, max talent'

/ by Rob Schaefer
Presented By PointsBet

Now that the Chicago Bulls' season is officially over, a potentially busy offseason can begin in earnest.

And one of the primary orders of business 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 the Bulls matched back in the summer of 2018. While some shuddered at that contract's average annual salary of $19.5 million at the time, LaVine quickly outplayed that dollar figure and is now in for a big pay-day.

How big? Assuming he doesn't crack an All-NBA team, the Bulls can offer LaVine a five-year maximum contract that begins with a salary of 30 percent of the league's salary cap and exceeds $200 million in total value.

That's a lot of dough. And in the opinion of All-Star teammate DeMar DeRozan, LaVine is worth every penny.

"Yeah. Max player, max talent, max everything," DeRozan said when asked if LaVine is a max-worthy player after the Bulls' season-ending loss to the Bucks Wednesday night. "He's one of those players in this league that you don't see too often. I tell him all the time how envious I am of the things he's able to do. He deserves everything that's coming to him for sure."

DeRozan has repeatedly said that LaVine was a factor in him signing with the Bulls last offseason. The two's relationship only blossomed in their first year playing together.


"It developed great. It was quick. It was 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 together working out. We flew from [Los Angeles] to Chicago a few times, just me and him having conversations on the plane... We had a lot of dialogue before we even stepped out there on the court and that kind of set the foundation from there. Everything else just kind of carried over once we got on the court."

Indeed, the duo enjoyed remarkable on-court success early in the season as the Bulls ascended to the top of the Eastern Conference. But underperformance against the NBA's elite and injuries, including knee soreness that nagged LaVine from mid-January on, later contributed to a topsy-turvy stretch run, which culminated in a 46-36 regular-season record (sixth-best in the conference) and a gentleman's sweep out of the first round of the playoffs.

Still, DeRozan was taken by LaVine's competitiveness — from his on-court exploits to friendly sparring on the team plane.

"(He's) just the ultimate competitor," DeRozan said of LaVine. "That's the best way I can sum it up. No matter what it is. I remember, we played tic tac toe on the plane, and I kept beating him and he wouldn't leave me alone until he beat me. And that's just him on the court as well."

From the sound of it, DeRozan wouldn't mind competing with him for years to come. That's provided LaVine and the Bulls come together on a long-term pact.

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