Max deal hasn’t changed Zach LaVine, according to Bulls’ Billy Donovan

The two-time All-Star has said on several occasions that the five-year, $215-million max contract he signed over the summer wouldn’t change his work ethic or add pressure, and his coach said on Friday that’s held true. That doesn’t mean that Donovan doesn’t see room for improvement from LaVine, however.

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Zach LaVine

Bulls guard Zach LaVine promised that the maximum contract he got in the offseason wouldn’t change him. Coach Billy Donovan doesn’t think he’s lying.

“Just being around Zach for two years, he, to me, is a really grounded guy,” Donovan said Friday. “His family is very important. I have not seen a change in him as it relates to as a person. He always takes great responsibility to want to perform at a high level. He’s worked very hard to get to this point.”

The reward was large: a five-year, $215 million deal that includes a player option at $48.9 million in the final season.

Asked about the pressures of that deal when he first signed it, then again at the start of this training camp, LaVine has been consistent in his responses.

“I put the highest expectations on myself, more than anybody, and I keep developing my game like I have the last nine years of my career,” he said recently. “I think I’ve gotten better each and every year. I’m going to continue to do that. I don’t think a contract is going to give me any extra motivation for that because I already have enough myself.”

That doesn’t mean the expectations haven’t changed, although Donovan said he hasn’t mentioned the deal to LaVine.

“You don’t pass too much judgment of just, like, jumping in and saying, ‘Hey, Zach, you got this contract . . .’ ” Donovan said. “Let’s just see how he handles himself. He’s been really good in practice, and his dialogue, his communication. I have not seen anything from him as far as any personality change or anything like that.”

But he noted there’s still “a lot of room for [LaVine] to improve.” LaVine was bothered last season when problems with his left knee affected his play, especially on defense, and he was still wearing that coming into camp, Donovan said.

“There’s another level he needs to get to,” he said.


Rookie Dalen Terry continues to live by doing whatever the coaches need him to do. But will that earn him a regular rotation spot when the Bulls open the season Oct. 19 in Miami?

Donovan said the coaches and front office will have in-depth conversations about that when the preseason wraps up.

“I like him a lot from the standpoint of the makeup of him as a competitor, and his motor and his energy — those types of things,’’ Donovan said. “That’s what is going to be the interesting part — the decisions that are made going into that first game in Miami, because like I’ve said before, we’re not going to be able to play everybody. Someone is going to be out of the rotation.”

Terry’s versatility could help his chances. He already has shown he can be a wing defender and play off the ball while also running the point if need be. V

Joe Cowley

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