Zach LaVine emerged as the Chicago Bulls’ leading scorer this past season after signing a max contract. His athleticism is apparent with his windmill dunks and ability to get downhill to the rim in the NBA.
But he’s also a good hitter on the baseball diamond.
LaVine took part in the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game this week ahead of the MLB All-Star Game in Seattle. He showed out, too, as he hit a home run — and later take one away — at T-Mobile Park, where LaVine’s hometown Seattle Mariners play.
LaVine’s love for baseball goes back a long time, though. In fact, he told NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson if he didn’t play in the NBA, he would’ve tried to play baseball in the big leagues.
“Professional baseball player,” LaVine said. “Automatically. Probably centerfield for the Angels. Ah, no, Mike Trout is there. Left field for the Angels. (I was a) five-tool player. Power. Speed. Great glove. Good arm strength. Not the most accurate arm. That’s why they moved me to center field. I was at third base. Little bit too inaccurate for them. Had good pop.”
It seems basketball is working out fine for LaVine, though. The former UCLA star is entering his second year of his max contract with the Bulls, who signed him to the five-year, $215 million contract prior to the 2022-23 season. He was in and out of the lineup early in the year as he came back from offseason knee surgery, but still played 77 games and led Chicago in scoring with 24.8 points per game.
Those numbers, however, haven’t kept LaVine out of trade rumors. The Bulls — who will be fellow former UCLA star Lonzo Ball this year — have been at the center of rumors throughout the offseason after another disappointing season. They snuck into the play-in tournament as the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference and, after defeating the Toronto Raptors, fell to the Miami Heat to end the season.
Rumors at the trade deadline connected LaVine to the New York Knicks, but those largely fell through. After the 2023 NBA Draft, Bulls vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas addressed LaVine’s future with the franchise as chatter continues.
“I think we all were disappointed the way the season ended. Zach was one of the guys who was very disappointed with the way it ended in Miami. He went into the offseason to get better,” Karnisovas said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “He’s already working out with Ty Abbott, (our) player development (coach) in Los Angeles. He’s trying to get better.”