NBA Analysts Label 2-Time All-Star as Bulls Trade Target

Nikola Vucevic

Getty Nikola Vucevic handles the ball during a January 16 game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Among the names rumored available ahead of the NBA trade deadline, would any place the Chicago Bulls firmly amidst the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference?

They’re walking into the second half of the season at 16-18, which is the 19th best record in the league. There’s little doubt between both the fanbase and the front office that a roster upgrade might be necessary.

Enter Nikola Vucevic, who despite being rumored as a lock to remain with the Orlando Magic through the deadline, is garnering serious interest from a number of teams around the NBA. Should the Chicago Bulls be interested, too?

Vucevic is averaging a career-high 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and a steal this season.

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There’s an Obvious Fit for Vucevic and the Bulls

Given Chicago’s need for an upgrade in the frontcourt and additional playmaking, there are few better fits for their roster than Nikola Vucevic. It’s why he’s being tied to the Bulls, despite his rumored unavailability.

Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report mentioned the Windy City as the ideal landing spot for Vucevic, should the Magic buckle and trade him before the deadline:

If the Bulls aren’t going to sell LaVine at an astronomical price at the deadline, then they should focus on finding him more help. Vooch moves the needle in a way no one else on Chicago’s roster does.

Then the NBC Sports staff mentioned the big man in their deadline primer:

Vucevic is posting career highs in points per game and 3-point percentage for the injury-riddled Magic. But as skilled as he is on the offensive end, there are questions as to whether the 6-foot-11 center would become too much of a defensive liability in the playoffs.

Defensive struggles or not, an addition of Nikola Vucevic to this roster (cost depending) would lay a surefire path to an Eastern Conference playoff appearance for the Chicago Bulls.

Can Chicago Meet Orlando’s Asking Price?

There are few players across the NBA that are truly unavailable: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic to name a few. Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Wednesday night that Nikola Vucevic could don that label, even if just temporarily for this year’s trade deadline:

Despite the Magic’s apparent unwillingness to trade him, Vucevic could likely still be had.

But the price it would take for a team to acquire him all but rules him out for most of the other 29 teams.

The Chicago Bulls, however, are one of few teams that may be able to meet Orlando’s desired return. It’s just a question of whether or not they’d be comfortable pulling the trigger on such a blockbuster-caliber deal.

Chicago’s got all of their future first-round picks to work with, of which, it would likely take at least one if not two to pry Vucevic from the Magic. For salary purposes, Otto Porter Jr. would be a necessary component to any deal.

On top of draft compensation and matching salary, the Bulls would need to sweeten the pot with young talent: likely Wendell Carter Jr. at a minimum, and one of Lauri Markkanen/Coby White as well. Is that worth it for Chicago?

Two-first round picks and two young players, both selected in the lottery of their own draft classes, is a steep price to pay, even for a groundbreaking addition like Vucevic. It’s likely a deal for the Orlando Magic big man isn’t in the cards at this juncture, but it’s still something to resume watching as early as the offseason.

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