One of the biggest questions facing the Chicago Bulls in what appears to be a critical offseason is what they will do with starting center Nikola Vucevic, 32, and the answer is not entirely in their control. Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent and, has entertained the idea of playing elsewhere next season.
Perhaps, the Bulls would be better served to find a longer-term solution.
“A lack of spacing and shooting plagued the Chicago Bulls all season long. Myles Turner takes care of that,” wrote Dan Favale of Bleacher Report in an article from May 20 identifying ‘ambitious’ trade targets for every team.
“Turner’s rim protection and mobility beyond the paint would also be a welcomed addition to a defense that needed to insulate Nikola Vučević from the outside in.”
Turner, 27, averaged career-highs with 18 points and 7.5 rebounds this past season, tacking on 2.3 blocks and 1.4 assists while shooting 37.3% from deep. It was the ideal scenario that was essentially underscored by the two-year, $60 million contract extension he agreed to at the end of January.
The 6-foot-11 big man also made 62 appearances this past season, his most since 2020. He was also a popular trade target for the Bulls before the 2022 trade deadline and last offseason before he ultimately got paid.
But Turner’s improved play and Indiana’s rebuild potentially being ahead of schedule thanks to star point guard Tyrese Haliburton are just two parts of what could make a deal unlikely.
Bulls’ Limitations Complicate Things
Things really get complicated when trying to cobble together a workable deal that would satisfy both sides. Chicago owes its first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft (No. 11 overall) to the Orlando Magic as their final payment for trading for Vucevic.
They also owe a first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs from the DeMar DeRozan trade that won’t turn into a pair of second-rounders after the 2024-25 season.
– Myles Turner
– Nikola Vucevic (sign-and-trade)
– Patrick Williams
– Lottery-Protected Future 1st Rd Pick (via POR)
“Patrick Williams and/or the lottery-protected Portland pick Chicago owns must do some serious lifting in prospective talks,” Favale notes. “Using Vučević as sign-and-trade salary filler would help simplify the process”, but the Bulls need the cooperation of both he and the Pacers.”
In addition to Indiana’s sentiments, Chicago may be very reluctant to give up on Williams even after another statistically mediocre and visually uneven showing this past season.
He will turn 22 years old in late August and has flashed tremendous potential.
Williams is also a former top-five pick and the first first-rounder pick made by Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas who has come under fire for his team’s underperformance and uncertain future while the pieces he gave away have continued to blossom.
Myles Turner, Nikola Vucevic Want to Stay Put
Turner’s contract prevented the Pacers from losing Turner for nothing on the open market. But it could also be the strongest indication of their plans for him.
He has also shown a desire to remain a Pacer, per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
His Bulls counterpart, Vucevic, has also said Chicago will have “priority” this summer despite keeping his options open. And he was Karnisovas’ big get that cost him some of those key assets he catches grief in the public sphere over.
That does not mean a deal couldn’t be worked out. But it is also unclear just how motivated either team would be to aid a division rival.