The Chicago Bulls were one of the surprise teams in the NBA last year. After getting back to the playoffs for the first time in five year, momentum is on their side, they just have to make sure they take advantage of it.
After a makeover last offseason that included the addition of what turned out to be MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan, Chicago won 46 games and finished with their best record since 2014-15, and Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas hasn't hid the team's desire to bring back LaVine on what will end up being a max deal.
"We hope Zach is here for a long time, and nothing changed," Karnisovas said at a news conference.
The real question here isn't whether they want him, but instead, whether or not LaVine is lured somewhere else in free agency this offseason.
If Not Chicago...
If not the Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs lead the way at +200 to land the two-time All-Star in free agency. The Trail Blazers (+300), Lakers (+400), Hawks (+500), Knicks (+600), Heat (+700), Pacers (+800), Pistons (+900), and Mavericks (+1000) follow them, it what will clearly be a bidding war.
LaVine averaged 24.4 points last season, but has that whole injury bug cloud hanging over him after dealing with a thumb injury early and then was in and out of the lineup the final few months because of a left knee injury.
Don't expect that to hurt his market, but it is still something teams will take into account, especially when you're talking about a knee.
The Bulls are just 14-15 without LaVine over the last two seasons, and can offer a max contract worth about $212 million. The most he can get from anywhere else is around $157 million over four years, but this of course all depends on what his priorities are moving forward.
If LaVine thinks his career is maxed out in Chicago, that extra money might not matter as much as winning somewhere else. Then again, given the upward trajectory of the team and his familiarity with it, the Bulls have what at the moment at least looks like a bright future.
The one team to keep an eye on though has always been the Spurs, who have been rumored to have the desire to pair him with rising star point guard Dejounte Murray, although he's involved in some trade rumors himself.
The Knicks also cleared cap space with their questionable at best draft decisions, so you'd expect them to be aggressive just to avoid a complete fan revolt this offseason.
The most likely outcome is still Chicago, but it's the NBA offseason, and as we all know by now, it always has a few surprises up its sleeve.