Zach LaVine reportedly not ‘face to face’ with Bulls front office, DeMar DeRozan amid strife

Apparently things aren’t going well in the Chicago Bulls locker room.

It’s not just that the Bulls aren’t winning. Chicago is 11-18 this season, a disappointing start for a team many expected to make a lot of noise in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls lost four straight in Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat.

It’s that stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are now reportedly not getting along.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry, DeRozan and LaVine have had several one-on-one sitdowns and full team meetings over the past few days and weeks to work through their issues. While the two still “keep a good personal relationship”, tensions rise as the Bulls continue to lose.

DeRozan isn’t the only one LaVine is reportedly having issues with. LaVine, who is in the first year of a $215 million five-year contract, is not “aligned” with the organization.

“There is a certain amount of frustration with people trying to figure out what we can do to right the ship,” LaVine told The Athletic on Tuesday. “I think with the players we have we are trying to impose on each other to straighten things out. We have that kind of lads, that kind of mentality where each of us was the number one option in a team before and then we come all together. It doesn’t take one person. It’s going to take us all 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 landing in Chicago from Minneapolis off the 2017–18 season, which was cut short due to an ACL injury.

The Bulls should have been good this season in theory. LaVine and DeRozan, along with center Nikola Vucevic, led the Bulls to the playoffs for the first time in five seasons last season. Still, they’ve struggled in this campaign, and point guard Lonzo Ball is still out with a knee injury. He has not played for almost a year and his return feels anything but imminent.

If LaVine isn’t “face to face” with the Bulls’ front office, that’s a major issue. He has been dealing with minor knee injuries all season after off-season surgery, and last month had a brief issue with head coach Billy Donovan after being benched during a game.

While his game wasn’t great, LaVine insisted his struggles had nothing to do with expectations of his maximum deal.

“It didn’t weigh [on] all for me. I don’t understand how to put that in context,” LaVine told The Athletic. “Just because you’re signing a deal, should it give it extra weight? I think there’s extra weight every time you step on the field if you don’t perform or don’t play the right way. But everyone is open to their own opinion.

“I have been improving every day since coming off an injury. If you lose, you don’t see it. It’s obviously frustrating when you’re losing and all these other stories come out. It’s not from us. It comes from outside sources. It’s just what you’re dealing with. It belongs to the territory. I understand that. I think the team understands that. It does not bother me. I think it’s just something that comes with it.”

With that contract comes limited availability to move him, should that be the end result. Another team should be willing to pay the 27-year-old an average of $43 million per season through 2026-27 – which is a lot to ask, especially given his recent playing and injury history.

For now, there is an easy way out for LaVine and Chicago.

Start winning.

“We need to get rid of the mentality of worrying about scoring and how the offensive is going and getting the ball scores going,” Donovaon said via The Athletic. “And once the ball has moved and passed whoever scores, scores… If we get the mentality of, ‘I feel like I’m doing it for him. And I’m gonna do it for him, and I’m gonna do it for him. And I’m not abandoning the man I’m there with.

DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine

The Bulls reportedly held several team meetings, including one-on-one with Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan to try and work through their issues. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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