Zach is back.
Bulls vice president John Paxson announced to media members Tuesday morning that Zach LaVine will make his debut with the team Saturday when the Bulls play hosts to the Detroit Pistons at the United Center.
LaVine, sidelined since tearing his ACL last season while playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, will play in his first game this season and his first game since joining the Bulls in the offseason trade that brought him and Kris Dunn to Chicago in exchange for Jimmy Butler.
"Him coming back to play is a conclusion of his rehab, meaning we're still going to take this conservatively," Paxson said. "We're going to look at this in week installments. He'll initially play 20 minutes per game. In talking with the coaches, we're not going to put him in a situation where we're saving minutes for end of games, anything like that. Fred (Hoiberg) and Jim Boylen and I are going to talk on Thursday about how the minutes will be distributed, but this is the continuation and ending of his rehab so that's kind of how we're looking at it. We're going to continue kind of a conservative approach with him. He's done everything at such top level getting back ready to play, and I know he's really anxious to."
His return to the floor is big news for the Bulls, who envision superstardom for LaVine. In 47 games last season prior to his injury, he averaged an eye-popping 18.9 points per game.
LaVine is known for his explosiveness, as well, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest champ. And according to Dunn, LaVine is already back to doing windmill dunks and between-the-legs throwdowns in practice. Bulls fans are hoping he can show that type of thing off in the games. He'll get his first chance in red and black Saturday.
Antoine Griezmann, you just won the World Cup, what are you going to do next?
Apparently, profess his love for Derrick Rose.
In the celebrations of France winning the World Cup on Sunday, French forward Griezmann spotted his teammate Paul Pogba getting interviewed by FOX Sports. Recognizing this was the American audience, Griezmann took the mic from FOX's Jenny Taft and had one thing to say:
"I love Derrick Rose."
Griezmann, who scored a goal in France's 4-2 win against Croatia in the final, is a big NBA fan. He has been spotted at multiple games over the years, including Game 5 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Finals between the Celtics and Cavs.
This also isn't the first time he has made a comment about D-Rose. He recently signed a contract extension with his club team, Atletico Madrid, but a year ago said the only way he would leave was to play with Rose.
"I would only leave Atleti to play with Derrick Rose," Griezmann said through translation.
In 2015 he posted an image of himself in a Derrick Rose Bulls jersey to his Instagram.
Later that year he took in a Bulls game and got a photo with Joakim Noah.
Maybe when the 27-year-old is ready to leave Europe, he will join a Major League Soccer team just so he can watch more NBA games.
The Bulls ‘rebuild’ seems to be just a one-year experiment after the team signed Chicago native Jabari Parker to a two-year, $40-million dollar deal on Saturday. Although on first look Parker’s contract would seem to restrict what they can do in free agency next summer, the reality is that the 2nd year team option gives the Bulls plenty of flexibility with—or without- Parker next year.
If the Bulls pick up the option on Parker, they will still be able to sign a max free agent next July if they make the right moves between now and July 1, 2019.
The NBA projects the 2019-20 cap will rise to $109 million, up from $101.9 million for the upcoming season. The league bases a ‘max’ salary on years of service. A 10-year vet like Kevin Durant is eligible for more ($38.2 million) than his teammate Klay Thompson ($32.7 million), an 8-year vet. If the Bulls keep Parker, they’ll enter free agency with approximately $15.4 million next summer—far short of the cap space needed for a player like Durant or Thompson, but that number is misleading. The $15.4 million also includes cap holds (salary slots assigned to a player based on several factors including previous year’s salary). The cap hold is designed to prevent teams from completely circumventing the soft cap model the league uses. The cap holds for Bobby Portis ($7.5 million) and Cameron Payne ($9.8 million) are just theoretical if the Bulls don’t sign either to a contract extension before the October 31, 2018 deadline.
Let’s say the Bulls are in line to sign a star free agent like Thompson; all they would need to do is rescind any qualifying offer to Payne or Portis, and then renounce them as free agents. This would effectively take the cap holds off the Bulls’ cap sheet and give them approximately $32.7 million in cap space. Coincidently (or perhaps it’s no coincidence), that’s the exact salary a 7-9 year free agent like Thompson would command.
In order to create enough space for Durant and his increased ‘max’ slot, they would need to waive and stretch a player like Cristiano Felicio or incentivize a trade involving a player by attaching another asset in the deal, like a future 1st round pick.
If the Bulls decline the team option on Parker, then they will enter free agency with anywhere between $35 million and $53 million.