Zach LaVine reportedly not ‘seeing eye-to-eye’ with Bulls front office, DeMar DeRozan amid struggles

Apparently, things aren’t going well inside 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 would make significant noise in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have lost four straight heading into Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat.

And now, stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan are reportedly not getting along.

DeRozan and LaVine have had several one-on-one sit-downs, along with full-team meetings, to try to work out their issues in recent days and weeks, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Darnell Mayberry. While the two “maintain a good personal relationship,” tensions are growing as the Bulls keep losing.

DeRozan isn’t the only one with whom LaVine is reportedly having issues. LaVine, who is in the first year of a five-year, $215 million contract, is reportedly 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 told The Athletic 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 types of guys, those types of mentalities where each of us have been No. 1 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.”

Things got so rough that there was a reported “blowup” between players at halftime of Sunday’s 150-126 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The incident was so loud, per The Sun Times’ Joe Cowley and NBC Chicago’s KC Johnson, that coaches stopped their meeting right outside the locker room to intervene. It was the second time that has happened this season, and it was apparently directed at LaVine specifically.

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, aside from his 2017-18 season, which was cut short due to an ACL injury.

The Bulls, in theory, should’ve been good this season. LaVine and DeRozan, along with center Nikola Vucevic, led the Bulls to the playoffs last season for the first time in five seasons. Yet they’ve struggled in this campaign, and point guard Lonzo Ball is still out due to a knee injury. He hasn’t played for almost 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 has been dealing with minor knee injuries throughout the season following offseason surgery, and he had a brief issue with head coach Billy Donovan last month after he was benched 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 been weighed [on] anything for me. I don’t understand how that gets put into context,” LaVine told The Athletic. “Just because you sign a deal, it’s supposed to be added weight to it? I think there’s added weight every 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’re 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.”

With that contract comes a limited availability to move LaVine, should that be the end result. Another team would have to 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 considering his recent play and injury history.

For now, there’s only one clear way out of this for LaVine and Chicago: Start winning.

“We’ve got to get out of the mindset of worrying about scoring and how it’s going offensively and realize the ball scores,” Donovan said via The Athletic. “And if the ball’s moved and passed whoever scores, scores… When we get that mentality, ‘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.’”

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

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