Zach LaVine unconvincingly tried to clarify Bulls’ late-game benching comments

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The Chicago Bulls max-money-guard Zach LaVine commented on his benching against Orlando and offered more reasons for his rejection of it

Zach LaVine got benched by Bulls’ head coach Billy Donovan last Friday with more than three minutes on the clock. Chicago’s guard never made it back to the court in a game that the Bulls ended up losing to Orlando Magic by one point after Nikola Vucevic missed two pivotal free throws with 12.2 seconds remaining.

On Sunday, after the Chicago Bulls practice gearing up for their matchup with Boston on Monday, LaVine addressed the media trying to clarify the situation created after his post-game comments last Friday.

“Me and Billy talk all the time,” LaVine said (h/t ESPN). “Obviously, I’m a competitive guy. I want to play. I just told him I feel like I’ve earned the right to go out there and try to play through a bad game.”

Donovan decided to put Ayo Dosunmu back on the court in exchange for LaVine. Dosunmu finished the game scoring 13 points and shooting a more than palatable 6-of-8 from the floor. LaVine saw the remainder of it from the pine having put up a 1-for-14 shooting performance prior to getting benched–his worst outing since 2018 (four points against the Celtics in 27 minutes played in a game in which LaVine went 1-for-11.)

LaVine tried to defuse any sort of drama that might have been perceived by fans and media members, saying he doesn’t want “to get this blown out of proportion” reasoning that “we’re talking about a loss, where we’ve had multiple losses this year.” This, it feels like, is just one more loss in one more NBA season for the face of the Chicago Bulls.

Zach LaVine, who signed a $215 million max contract this past offseason, has surely earned the right to consider himself worthy of being on the court in the most critical moments.

Zach LaVine didn’t even get a chance at some late-game freebies, thinks he deserved it

“I told [Donovan] at the very least bring me in for free throws. I think I could’ve helped at least seal the game with free throws,” reasoned LaVine.

That might be stretching things a bit because LaVine’s a good shooter but those words screamed disrespect to the man who missed those two late-game free-throw shots (Nikola Vucevic) and someone who is shooting 87.8 percent from the charity stripe this season for a career-high figure. In comparison, LaVine is shooting and hitting freebies at an 84% lower-than-Vooch clip this season and is a career 83% shooter from the free-throw line.

Billy Donovan looked more relaxed and level-headed with his post-practice comments on Sunday, saying that “anytime you’re in a very, very competitive environment, there’s always going to be frustrations or disappointments or people are going to get upset,” before adding that he feels he “can say anything to Zach” and that he thinks that actually goes both ways.

“One thing I admire about Zach is he’s always been a good person. And he’s been a really good guy. And he’s always tried to have good relationships inside the team.”

At the end of the day, though, LaVine said that he and Donovan “have a good relationship,” that they “talk all the time,” and that he “thinks [Donovan] understands” given that the two of them are “grown men,” and the NBA “a grown man’s business.”

“There’s gonna be uncomfortable days,” concluded LaVine. “You’re not gonna agree on every decision made. So you talk about it, you move on from it and you understand where the other side is coming from.”

We’ll see how that goes throughout a critical season for the future of the Chicago Bulls and their all-in roster.

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