CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls made it clear re-signing Zach LaVine and locking in the two-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist for years to come was their top offseason priority.
It is officially a done deal.
The Bulls announced Thursday they re-signed LaVine, after the high-flying guard agreed to a five-year max contract worth about $215 million last week.
LaVine had said he wanted to explore the market as an unrestricted free agent for the first time after eight seasons in the NBA and five with the Bulls. If he went shopping, it was a quick trip. He announced his decision about 18 hours after the free-agent negotiating period began.
“We are pleased that Zach remains with the Bulls. His work ethic and character have helped him to become one of the top players in the NBA,” executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement. “We look forward to more great things from Zach, as he helps lead our team, both on and off of the court.”
LaVine’s arrival from Minnesota as part of a 2017 draft-night trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves kicked off a rebuilding effort by the previous management regime of John Paxson and Gar Forman. His decision to stay means a core that led Chicago to the playoffs for the first time in five years remains intact.
LaVine averaged 24.4 points in the final season of a four-year, $78 million deal. He made the playoffs for the first time, with the Bulls losing in the first round to Milwaukee in five games.
It wasn't an easy season for LaVine. He dealt with a thumb injury early on and was in and out of the lineup the final few months because of a left knee injury that required frequent treatment and, ultimately, arthroscopic surgery in May.