The big question with LaVine is what to do about his unrestricted free agency. Let’s dig into his offensive season to see if he’s worth his $212 million max contract.
Playing alongside a true offensive engine for the first time in his career, LaVine settled nicely into a 1B offensive option. Without the pressure to be the facilitator and closer, LaVine was able to be a play finisher and that’s exactly the role in which he can thrive.
Especially in the first half of the season, LaVine did exactly that. LaVine was in the conversation for a starter nod in the All-Star game. The Bulls were rolling. And then injury hit. LaVine dealt with an unresolved knee injury for the second half of the year, and it clearly hampered his output and efficiency. After the injury, LaVine’s field goal percentage dropped 3.6 percent, his three-point percentage dropped 5.2 percent and his scoring dropped from 25.6 to 23.7 points per game.
Despite the injury, LaVine still put up monster numbers. Over the last two seasons, only ten players have averaged 24 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists on greater than 60-percent true shooting. LaVine, along with Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard, is one of them.
LaVine was disappointing in his first playoff appearance, averaging only 19.3 points on 42.9 percent shooting and 37.5 percent from deep. It’s difficult to be critical of his performance given the injury, matchup and how limited the Bulls were on the whole, but it would have been nice if he was able to step up to the moment and have a signature game.
All of this being said, LaVine is truly one of the league’s most lethal offensive weapons. There are still knocks on his game, but he deserves to be paid as the max offensive threat he has proven himself to be.
LaVine is set to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his injured knee and is expected to make a full recovery. LaVine is a flawed player to be sure, and the injury makes things a little scarier, but he is well worth the max contract.
The Bulls can offer him the most years, highest annual raises and more money than any other team. If LaVine wants to walk, the Bulls will likely be able to sign-and-trade him to another team, giving them some leverage to get players and/or other assets in return.
Given the way Arturas Karnisovas and his staff have constructed the roster around LaVine, his free agency decision will have massive ramifications on the future of this team. Expect to hear your weekly dose of rumors about his departure as the offseason drags on, but my gut tells me he will be back with the Bulls for the 2022-2023 season.