NEW YORK --- Zach LaVine took his typical pregame nap Thursday afternoon and “woke up perfectly fine.”
In other words, he wasn’t sweating Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
“Everybody’s name in this room has been mentioned one way or another in their careers,” LaVine said. “It doesn’t bother me.”
LaVine said if something serious regarding his future was transpiring, his agent would’ve told him. And he didn’t even talk to his representative, Rich Paul.
“Rumors are rumors,” LaVine said. “If it doesn’t come from me, then it’s just put out there for the world to see. I’m not worried about it. It’s funny to me.”
In the first season of a five-season, $215 million max contract, this was actually a relatively quiet period leading up to the deadline for LaVine, who had been more prominently mentioned in rumors in past seasons. Multiple outlets, including NBC Sports Chicago, reported that the Chicago Bulls had no plans to move off their core pieces unless blown away by an offer.
But LaVine’s quiet Thursday changed somewhat when the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Knicks and Bulls held discussions on a deal centered on LaVine. One source downplayed those talks, calling them preliminary and indicating they didn't happen this week but instead weeks back. Another source insisted they didn’t take place at all but indicated such a scenario is something that could be discussed during the offseason once the Bulls see how this season concludes.
“We’re not playing well right now. We’re close to .500. Those speculations don’t come out with winning teams,” LaVine said. “Didn’t happen last year, so I think being one of the leaders of the team and understanding your positioning and the position of the team, your name is going to get thrown in stuff like that. I understand who I am as a player on this team and I understand who I am and what I represent and also my value, what other teams look at as well.
“I just know whenever I’m suiting up, I wear Chicago Bulls and I’m happy with that. Going into the trade deadline, I didn’t have any worry because I didn’t have any calls or any speculation.”
Executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas said LaVine is having a “great” season.
“He started kind of slow just because he’s coming off the injury. But right now, he’s playing pretty well the last two months and definitely helping the team,” Karnišovas said. “I hope for him to continue to do that.”
So does LaVine, who said his focus is on making a playoff push.
“As long as I’ve got this jersey on I represent Chicago,” he said.