Bulls Urged to Part Ways With Two-Time All-Star

Billy Donovan

Getty Images Billy Donovan

The Chicago Bulls have officially entered the 2022 NBA offseason after losing game five to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night 116-100. While the season ended in a disappointing fashion, this season was largely a success for the Bulls as they increased their win to 46 after winning just 31 games the previous season.

The Bulls’ success this season was largely inspired by their busy 2021 offseason. The team added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso which made a huge impact.

While this season was considered an organizational success, this offseason will be just as important for the Bulls if they are going to take the next step towards being championship contenders.


Big Decisions

The first big decision the Bulls will have to make this summer is on Zach LaVine’s contract. LaVine is an unrestricted free agent and is eligible for a max deal of five years at $212 million.

The Bulls have said they want to keep LaVine, but how long of a deal they are willing to give him could be determined by the condition of his injured knee. LaVine will undergo surgery this offseason and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return.

LaVine isn’t the only player the Bulls will have to make a decision on this summer. Chicago struggled with interior defense this season and because of that Nikola Vucevic has been a popular name in trade discussions.

In a new article from Bleacher Reports Zach Buckley, he names one starter that every NBA team could replace this summer. According to Buckley, that starter for the Bulls is Vucevic.

The Bulls were feisty on defense for the first month or so, but cracks formed even before perimeter stoppers Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso were lost to injury. Chicago eventually landed 23rd in defensive efficiency while allowing the Association’s ninth-most paint points.

Assuming the Bulls plan to keep building around DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine—unrestricted free agency awaits the latter—they’ll need an intimidating paint presence at the back line of their defense. Vucevic wears a lot of different hats, but that isn’t one of them.

Vucevic has one year at $22 million left on his current contract with the team before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year. Ultimately if the Bulls trade Vucevic or not will likely be based on what they could get in return.

If the Bulls could get an elite rim protector like Rudy Gobert in return then they’d at least have to consider. What also could determine a deal like that is the other pieces involved.


Time Will Tell

For the Bulls LaVine’s decision will be the first domino to dictate the team’s other decisions. If the Bulls re-sign LaVine then Chicago could possibly trade Vucevic for a rim protector.

However, if the Bulls can’t keep LaVine then the Bulls might just opt to use the cap space to add a rim protector. That would also put the Bulls in an interesting spot with Vucevic as they could try to extend his contract or still trade him.

The Bulls have a lot of big decisions ahead of them this summer. Ultimately only time will tell what the team chooses to do.

 

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