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Summer’s biggest prize, LaVine says “Free agency is gonna be a big milestone for me”

2022 NBA All-Star - MTN DEW 3-Point Contest

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 19: Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a three point basket during the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest as part of 2022 NBA All Star Weekend on February 19, 2022 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

While he’s the best player on the market, there isn’t expected to be a lot of drama around Zach LaVine entering free agency this summer.

The Bulls will offer a five-year, $209 million max contract (that could climb to $244 million if he makes an All-NBA team). LaVine will sign it to both make the most money and stay with one of the top teams in the East. While other teams covet him, nobody around the league expects LaVine is bolting Chicago this summer.

However, after his last time in free agency — as a restricted free agent in 2018, when the Bulls let the market set the price and the Kings made a four-year, $78 million offer Chicago matched — LaVine is going to let things play out, he told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

“Free agency is gonna be a big milestone for me,” LaVine told Yahoo Sports. “It’s my first time going into it really being [an] unrestricted free agent. I dealt with it being restricted before so it’s a whole new experience.

“I’m excited for the season with the Bulls. But you know, moving forward, it’s gonna be a whole new experience for me....

“I know it’s a different front office, a different time. But I’m gonna take it day by day and let my agent handle it. But I remember everything. It’s something — I always have a chip on my shoulder for multiple reasons.”

The Bulls could have extended Zach LaVine last summer, but it would have eaten up their cap space. Instead, they used that space to sign DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso, rounding out a roster that is now 38-21 and tied for first in the East. The Bulls built a team LaVine wants to re-sign with.

He almost certainly will. However, players understandably like the process of being recruited, so don’t be shocked if rumors pop up about other teams talking to (they may say targeting) LaVine this summer. He will politely listen, then re-sign with the Bulls.

But LaVine is too smart to shut that door before it even has a chance to open.