Zach LaVine: "I've always wanted to play with a dominant big."

"I was excited. Gave a little bit of a yell in my house. I was texting with him throughout the day." - LaVine on Vucevic
by Sam Smith
Remind Me Later

Body

Zach LaVine spoke with the media on Friday and expressed his excitement in pairing up with another All Star for the Chicago Bulls.

If Zach LaVine wasn't an All-Star and one of the leading scorers in the NBA, he'd probably be a heck of a scout. Better for the Bulls, especially with the acquisition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, LaVine remain in his current job.

"The main thing I've come to see is it's going to be a lot harder for people to double," LaVine Friday told reporters with a laugh, an oh wow laugh like the shriek of delight he delivered at home upon hearing the news Thursday. "Guard play should get a lot more easy shots. Him playing in the pocket, picking-and-popping…"

Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic

Yes, just let the mind wander.

But just before the Bulls left for Saturday's game in San Antonio and the debut of the Bulls new Big Two, LaVine graciously provided a scouting report for his other new teammates. Coach Billy Donovan said all will be available to play Saturday except for former Celtics center Daniel Theis, who will join the team for Monday's game against the Warriors following personal business.

"Daniel Theis is a difference maker," said LaVine. "You have to scout for him when you play Boston. They have a bunch of dudes over there, but he's a key guy over there that made their offense and defense run. He did a lot of dirty work, took charges, extremely physical and tough. You had to scout for him. He's going to help. Al-Farouq (Aminu), I played against him a long time, even when he was in Portland. Tough guy. Does a lot of different things well. Troy Brown, when we played Washington, he always guarded me and I always respected him taking the challenge. He's somebody that doesn't back down and is a playmaker as well. Javonte Green is an extreme athlete. I remember we played Boston a year ago and he came in and gave them 10, 15 points really fast. Adding these guys, obviously we have to get to know each other and get to know their chemistry. But I think AK and Marc (executives Arturas Karnsivoas and Marc Eversley) did their homework on everybody and did a really good job of what identity they want with the Chicago Bulls moving forward."

That being winning, which has an obvious appeal for the Bulls previous only All Star in four years.

Zach LaVine on route to San Antonio today

"We got another big time player here," LaVine said about Vucevic. "For me personally, that's something that's really big and speaks volumes to me and not just on how they see me, but how they see the organization and what they're trying to do moving forward. That's big because I want to win. That's all I've been talking about the last couple years. And I think this puts us in the right foothold of being able to put some wins on the board."

The Bulls are 19-24 and hanging onto the last play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. But the series of trades Thursday featuring the Vucevic acquisition suddenly has the team seriously examining the road ahead. The Bulls are just three games out of fourth place, which seems to take on a different meaning than just after losing to Cleveland Wednesday.

Even the betting series are excited. The Bulls odds to win the title went from 300-1 to 150-1. Yes, that means they have a chance.

Now with the addition of not only an All-Star but also addressing the team's greatest need of a star center, the Bulls can seriously begin to consider their place among nine teams between fourth and 13th in the Eastern Conference separated by five games.

Nikola Vucevic on route to San Antonio

Though there's some adjusting and sorting out to do with even more rotation players available.

"It's totally different," Donovan acknowledged from the young team he inherited to start the season. "That's gonna be the challenge that we're all excited about. It's gonna be different lineups, it's gonna be different guys playing with each other. I mean Vooch (Vucevic) has never played with any of these guys and vice versa. Same thing with Al-Farouq. Same thing with Daniel Theis, Javonte Green, Troy Brown. None of these guys have ever played together. I've always said this, you look at the entire roster we're not gonna be able to play everybody. But the team has drastically changed. Hopefully we can get them up to speed sooner than later. But I do think the character of these guys, just getting the chance to meet them and spend time with them, they all seem like great guys."

More great guys; it seems like the Bulls have nothing but.

For LaVine, it's just great. And perhaps great for the Bulls as well with what appears to be a much more appealing roster for potential 2022 free agent LaVine.

"I'm extremely excited, I'm happy, and ready to get these next 29 games underway to see where we finish out at," said LaVine. "They're (management) not here to mess around. They're ready to win and they'll do anything it takes to make this organization better and get back to where this franchise should be at. That's what I got from (the trades)."

LaVine said he's been close with Vucevic. They have common representatives and LaVine said they were in regular communication once rumors began Thursday morning.

Zach LaVine driving on Nikola Vucevic

"I've always wanted to play with a dominant big," said LaVine. "We're obviously going to have to figure out our chemistry, but with a guy like that who is so talented offensively, dominant in the post, in the mid-range; he facilitates, he can pop for the three. I think a combination of us in pick-and-roll, pick-and-pops, is going to be (special).

"We're going to have to figure it out," LaVine added. "Obviously, it's not going to be perfect. But we have very talented players. I think we're just going to have to go out there and play basketball and try and figure out how to get these wins. Chemistry will come from that."

It will be quite the experiment on the run as the Bulls starting Saturday embrace on their rockiest voyage of this uneven season with nine road games in the next 10 and a difficult stretch of high level Western Conference opponents.

But with LaVine and Vucevic combining to average more than 50 points per game this season, it should be a productive experiment.

"It's going to be great," LaVine reiterated. "A mismatch really easy and make the defense make a decision. I want to stay in Chicago. I haven't had anything of wanting to leave. When that time comes, obviously, I'll try to do the best I can to stay here. Adding someone like this and being more attractive in the free agent market to bring more players here is always a bonus for any player."

"I was excited (when I first heard)," LaVine admitted. "Gave a little bit of a yell in my house. I was texting with him throughout the day. And it came through."

An olympic moment for LaVine and the Bulls. So let the games begin.

Got a question for Sam?

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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