Bulls Predicted to Re-Sign Nikola Vučević & Trade Him to Western Conference Dud

Nikola Vucevic

Getty Nikola Vucevic of the Chicago Bulls is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vučević is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and whether the Bulls try to keep him in the Windy City remains one of the more intriguing question surrounding the team this offseason.

In his April 13 column for Bleacher Report, Zach Buckley predicted the Bulls would re-sign Vučević — before trading him to the Dallas Mavericks, who missed the playoffs entirely this year with a 38-44 record. Buckley believes the Bulls could be better without Vooch, noting they “were 6.9 points better per 100 possessions when he didn’t play” this season.

“That speaks to two things: his imperfect fit as an offense-first center and Chicago’s struggles overall,” Buckley added. “Both should have the big man and the Bulls interested in a change, preferably as part of a sign-and-trade that nets the franchise something in return.”

Chicago won its first play-in game against the Toronto Raptors, 109-105, and it has another crucial play-in contest against the Miami Heat on April 14. One insider covering the team, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, reported that if the Bulls fail in the play-in, it could result in major roster changes, but Vooch could be on his way out, regardless.

Bulls’ VP Arturas Karnišovas Has Said Team Wants to Keep Vooch Around

Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnišovas as previously stated that he would like to keep the veteran big man around after Vooch’s contract is up this summer.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnišovas said about Vučević in February, according to NBC Sports insider KC Jackson. “And you know we want him to be here.”

For his part, Vooch has also said he would be open to re-signing with the Bulls. “I think we’ll figure it out as we go. If they want to talk extension, obviously we’re open to it. But if they want to wait until summer, that’s fine too. We’ll see,” Vučević told NBC Sports. “Obviously, I’d be interested in re-signing here if we can work everything out.”

The 32-year-old center has seen his scoring average dip slightly in recent years, but he is still incredibly reliable and durable for his age, as he was one of just 10 players in the NBA to start all 82 games this year.

The main factor regarding where Vooch lands, then, will likely be money.

What Could a New Deal for Vooch Look Like?

Should the Bulls choose to re-sign Vučević, his age will be a huge factor. He’s not getting any younger, so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to command the $22 million salary he earned this year with Chicago, which was leftover from the extension he signed when he was a member the Orlando Magic. The Bulls traded for Vučević in March of 2021, so the team has yet to negotiate a contract with him.

Vooch has averaged a double-double in 10 of his 13 seasons in the NBA, and this season was no exception, as he finished with 17.6 points at 11.0 rebounds. If there is mutual interest from both parties, a new deal for two or three years at around $13 or $14 or million per year might be doable for Chicago, but the Bulls should be careful not to offer more than that.

It’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes down.

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