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LaVine prepares for Olympic quarterfinal, Bulls' free agency

/ by Rob Schaefer
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With Saturday's 119-84 win over the Czech Republic, the USA men's basketball team clinched a spot in the Olympic quarterfinals.

And, of course, Zach LaVine got the bragging rights he so desired over Chicago Bulls teammate Tomáš Satoranský, who starred at point guard throughout the Czechs' run.

"It was good," LaVine said of going toe-to-toe with Satoranský. "I talked to him before and after the game. Obviously we (Team USA) wanted to go in there and make a statement."

LaVine played 20 minutes, scoring 13 points and handing out 5 assists. Satoranský once again stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points and 8 dimes.

Though the USA victory ended in resounding fashion, it started rocky. The Czech Republic led 25-18 after the first quarter before a Kevin Durant scoring barrage helped vault the Americans in front. Team USA won quarters two through four by a score of 101-59.

"They have a good team. They got out on us and we picked it up in the second and third quarter," LaVine said. "It feels good to go out there and see him (Satoranský) play. Compete against him obviously in a different time than — we're used to just competing against each other in practice. It was good to see him with his team."

Next up for the Americans is a bout with Spain, who they defeated 83-76 in their final Las Vegas exhibition, in the quarterfinals at 11:40 p.m. CT on Monday.

 

And next up for LaVine and the Bulls is what could be an active free agency period. An impending decision on Satoranský's partially guaranteed contract for next season looms as a harbinger of things to come. If the Bulls waive Satoranský, they can shave $5 million of his $10 million salary off their books.

That could potentially pave the way for other cap-space-clearing moves that would allow the team to either chase significant upgrades in the free-agent market, or renegotiate and extend LaVine's contract.

"I just want my respect. I think that's the main thing," LaVine said when asked what he has communicated to the Bulls about the latter possibility. "I outplayed my contract; I've been very loyal to Chicago, I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If it's now, later, it's something that we gotta work out internally and we'll go from there.

"We'll have some conversations going forward. I think free agency's going to play a big part in that with other players and constructing the roster. But me, AK (Artūras Karnišovas), Marc (Eversley) all talk and we'll get to the bottom of it."

RELATED: Zach LaVine wants long-term Bulls extension, flexible on timing

The free-agent negotiation window officially (wink wink) opens at 5 p.m. CT, which translates to 7 a.m. Tokyo time. But you can bet LaVine has his notifications on.

"I should have a good idea what's going on," he said when asked how plugged in he'll be with Bulls free agency happenings. "I take that very serious, keep up to date with what's going on back home, but obviously still get my rest cause we got a game tomorrow. One way or another I'll find out."

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