Zach LaVine’s rise to NBA All-Star status has not gone unnoticed around the league.
Washington Wizards guard and three-time All-Star Bradley Beal can attest.
“It is hell. It’s hell,” Beal emphasized after the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 105-101 on Feb 8, per NBC Sports Chicago. “Zach LaVine is a bonafide scorer in this league. He should hands down be an All-Star. I’m not debating. He’s getting my vote.”
While Beal and the Wizards continue on into the postseason, the Bulls are eyeing Beal as a possible finishing piece to join LaVine and Nikola Vucevic as the NBA’s next big three, NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported.
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Johnson: ‘I Expect Plenty of Change this Offseason’
In a Bulls mailbag piece earlier this week, Johnson addressed the biggest needs in Chicago this offseason and the impact that their final big contract will have on the franchise following an anticipated extension with LaVine.
“I expect plenty of change this offseason. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bulls try to work their books so that they have significant cap space in 2022,” Johnson wrote. “There already is speculative talk around the league — emphasis on speculative — that Bradley Beal could be a target. I assume that’s largely because of his relationship with Donovan (Beal played for Donovan at Florida).”
Johnson ranked adding a facilitating point guard, wing depth and big man depth as the team’s biggest needs this offseason; however, his report shows the Bulls are looking to add firepower, possibly in Beal, as their final splurge.
With Washington in the postseason, the appeal for Beal to stay has strengthened with three years remaining on his contract. His base salary varies between $30-$35 million a year, with a possible out in 2022.
“It’s speculative for many reasons,” Johnson wrote on acquiring Beal. “There’s no guarantee that Beal will be a free agent then. He owns a player option for 2022-23. But he’d be an intriguing piece alongside LaVine and Vucevic.”
Beal Lauds LaVine
Whatever may happen with the Wizards doesn’t change how Beal feels about LaVine. Beal has reveled in the competition he’s found in matching up with LaVine each time the duo, two of the league’s leading scorers, faced off.
.@RealDealBeal23 wants very much to be an ##NBAAllStar – but if a main competitor like @ZachLaVine is balling out, he’s going to say so even if it hurts his own chances #wasvschi pic.twitter.com/cHQgYvRv1m
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) February 9, 2021
“Every time we play it’s like this, it’s competitive,” Beal said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “We’re always seeing who can out-compete the other guy, who can lead their team to victory.”
“He’s been playing some of the basketball in the league over the last couple games,” Beal said after their Feb. 8 meeting. “He came in, had 39 before this tonight. So he’s electric, man. He has a great change of pace, can shoot the 3, he’s a three-level scorer, man.”