The Kings have stayed quiet for most of Free Agency so far, but it appears they’ve decided to swing for the fences. Multiple reports indicate that the Sacramento Kings are signing Chicago guard Zach LaVine to a 4 year, $78 million offer sheet. ESPN’s Marc Spears was first to report. Due to LaVine’s restricted status, the Bulls will have 48 hours to decide whether or not to match the offer.
Should the Bulls decline to match and LaVine head to Sacramento, this would be the most expensive signing of a free agent in Sacramento Kings history. This move also marks the first offer sheet tendered to a restricted free agent this summer, which is both surprising and unsurprising, as cap space has been limited. The Kings were one of the few teams remaining that had a significant amount of space left and right now it all appears to be going to LaVine.
LaVine’s contract has no options to it and also contains a sizable advance per David Aldridge.
Zach LaVine’s four-year, $78 million offer sheet from the Kings (@ShamsCharania first with report of agreement) includes the maximum allowable advance (a large chunk of the yearly salary can be paid to the player before the start of the season) and no team/player option.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 7, 2018
LaVine was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the 13th pick back in 2014 and was then traded to the Bulls as part of the Jimmy Butler trade after the 2016-17 season. LaVine’s promising start to his career was derailed in part due to an ACL injury in the middle of that 2016-17 season, and as such he only played 24 games for the Bulls last year (he might have played more had the Bulls not been tanking). In the year before his injury, LaVine was averaging 18.9 points on 45.9% from the field and 38.7% from three along with 3.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 0.9 steals. Those efficiency numbers took a big dip last year as he recovered from his injury.
According to Marc Spears, LaVine visited the Kings on the 4th of July, meeting with the front office and ownership before coming to terms on the deal today. The deal is a risk for the Kings, and as a guard LaVine doesn’t necessarily fit a positional need but he does fit the need for talent. Should LaVine be fully recovered from his injury, this contract could look much better down the road, especially if he gets up to his pre-injury production and efficiency. LaVine also fits in with the Kings desire to play at a much faster pace.
LaVine’s youth and his status as part of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler away will give the Bulls much to think about and there is a very real possibility that they will match. But the Bulls are also notoriously stingy and reports indicated they had only wanted to pay LaVine around $50 million or less. This offer is substantially more and we’ll find out shortly just how serious the Bulls are about keeping him.