Apparently, things aren’t going well inside the Chicago Bulls’ locker room.
It’s not just that the Bulls aren’t winning. Chicago is just 11-18 so far this season, a disappointing start for a team many expected would make significant noise in the Eastern Conference, and has lost four straight headed into Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat.
It’s that now stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are reportedly not getting along very well.
DeRozan and LaVine have had several one-on-one, face-to-face sitdowns, along with full team meetings, to try and work out their issues in recent days and weeks, according . Though the two still “maintain a good personal relationship,” tensions are growing as the Bulls keep losing.
It’s not just DeRozan that LaVine is reportedly having issues with, either. LaVine, who is in the first year of a five-year, $215 million contract, is not “seeing eye-to-eye” with the organization.
“There’s a certain level of frustration in people trying to figure out what we can do to help right the ship,” LaVine on Tuesday. “I think with the players that we have, we try to put it on each other to right the ship. We have those type of guys, those type of mentalities where each of us have been number one options on a team before and then we all come together collectively. It’s not going to take one person. It’s going to take all of us as a unit. I think that’s what guys are trying to figure out how to help the group.”
Will the Bulls move LaVine?
LaVine has averaged 21.8 points this season, along with 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists. His scoring output is his lowest since he landed in Chicago from Minneapolis, outside of the 2017-18 season, which was cut short due to an ACL injury.
The Bulls, in theory, should have been good this season. LaVine and DeRozan, along with center Nikola Vucevic, led the Bulls to the playoffs last year for the first time in five seasons. Yet they’ve been anything but, and point guard Lonzo Ball is still out dealing with a knee injury. He hasn’t played for nearly a year, and his return feels anything but imminent.
If LaVine isn’t “seeing eye-to-eye” with the Bulls front office, that’s a significant issue. He’s been dealing with minor knee injuries throughout the season so far following offseason surgery, and he during a game.
While his play hasn’t been great, LaVine insisted that his struggles don’t have anything to do with expectations with his max deal.
“It hasn’t weighed (on) anything for me. I don’t understand how that gets put into context,” LaVine . “Just because you sign a deal, it’s supposed to be added weight to it? I think there’s added weight each time you step on the court if you don’t perform or you don’t play the right way. But everybody’s open to their own opinion.
“I’ve been improving each and every day I’ve been coming off an injury. If you’re losing, you don’t see that. Obviously, it’s frustrating when you are losing and they’re all these other narratives coming out. It’s not coming from us. It’s coming from outside sources. It’s just what you’ve got to deal with. It comes with the territory. I understand that. I think the team understands that. It doesn’t bug me. I think it’s something that just comes with it.”
But with that contract comes a limited availability to actually move him, should that be the end result. Another team would have to be willing to pay the 27-year-old an average of $43 million a season through 2026-27 — which is a lot to ask, especially considering his recent play and past injury history.
For now, there’s one easy way out of this for LaVine and Chicago.
“We’ve got to get out of the mindset of worrying about scoring and how it’s going offensively and realize the ball scores,” Donovaon said, . “And if the ball’s moved and passed whoever scores, scores … When we get the mentality that, ‘I feel like I’m doing it for him. And I’m going to do it for him, and I’m going to do it for him. And I’m not letting the guy I’m out there with down.”