Are the Chicago Bulls championship contenders? If the answer to that is as many have projected it to be – a resounding no – then one must expect changes and, perhaps, drastic ones until they are.
So far, they’ve operated as a team aware of its limitations and have opted to see just what those are instead of shooting for the moon.
But patience in professional sports, particularly in major markets, wears thin rather quickly.
How long can the front office hold onto a roster if its ceiling is as first-round fodder for a real title contender? Eventually, that will become as monotonous as the five years of losing became leading to an overhaul of the front office. That front office already gave the roster an overhaul and might not be done just yet.
Bulls Commit to a Timeline in Proposal
The Bulls’ timeline for their experiment in continuity may only span the next two seasons. They will have just four players under contract for the 2024-25 season. Neither DeMar DeRozan nor Nikola Vucevic is slated to be among them as it stands.
There has been speculation that DeRozan could see another deal. And there was a report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley that the Bulls and Vucevic had a mutual interest in discussing a contract extension. But Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz has another idea of what the Bulls can do with the veteran big man as he enters the final year of his contract.
Trade it for Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton.
- Deandre Ayton
- Nikola Vucevic
- Coby White
- 2023 1st Rd Pick (Lottery Protected via POR)
Like Vucevic, Coby White is heading into the last year of his deal after being on the trade block for the past year.
The Bulls plan to reevaluate his trade value at the deadline and this could be a way.
“Ayton had to sign an offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers to get a max deal from Phoenix,” says Swartz, “something the Suns refused to give him before last season. Vucevic is entering the final year of his contract, and…the Bulls may be looking for better rim-protecting options in the middle. Ayton held opponents to 55.5 percent shooting at the rim compared to Vucevic’s 63.8 percent rate, a noticeable difference, especially over the course of a season.”
Ayton’s four-year, $132 million contract is not tradeable until January 15. As Swartz points out, Ayton is nearly eight years younger than Vucevic. That would solve the seemingly apparent issue the Bulls have of straddling the fence with their roster.
Ayton’s Potential Impact on the Bulls
Even in a down year by his standards, Ayton just missed joining Vucevic and becoming the seventh player to average 17 points and 11 rebounds last season. He also averaged 1.3 blocks per contest over the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
His head coach, Monty Williams, came out and refuted reports that there was a rift between the two.
The Suns also featured Ayton in their City Edition uniform promotional campaign.
It does need to be said that Vucevic has brought things beyond his on-court performance such as helping to recruit other players. But, if Swartz’s assessment is correct and there is still some wiggle room to pry Ayton loose, the Bulls might want to get on the phone. It could help clarify a lot for them going forward.