The Chicago Bulls value veteran center Nikola Vucevic. So much so that the two sides are planning on engaging in preliminary talks regarding an extension for the two-time All-Star heading into his age-32 season, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Vucevic has been one of the more polarizing members of the team after seeing his stats take a dip this past season as he adjusted to being a third option.
He was still one of six players to average 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds last season.
But there is also a notion that heading into the final year of his contract, Vucevic could be part of a trade package to get the Bulls some help. And one NBA executive has an idea of a wing that could be the answer in Charlotte Hornes forward, Kelly Oubre.
Ride the Wave
Oubre, like Vucevic, is heading into the final year of his contract with the Hornets. That has the Hornets, who an Eastern Conference executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney are looking for a big man, potentially open to moving him.
Naturally, this led to Vucevic’s name being brought up.
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
- Mason Plumlee
- Nikola Vucevic
“Charlotte is one other team that has looked for a big guy…If you’re Chicago and you could get Gordon Hayward in a deal like that, I think you give that a go even with the injury stuff.”
Heavy’s Sean Deveney explored the possibility that the Bulls could land Hayward in a trade.
But Oubre is a potentially more palatable trade target than Hayward and his remaining $61 million over the final two years of his contract.
“More likely, you’re looking at Mason Plumlee and someone like Kelly Oubre. The Bulls gave up two picks for Vuc, they’re going to want something in return if they trade him.”
Why It Won’t Happen
The Bulls have been all about “continuity” this offseason and have shown it with the moves that they have and have not made. That extends to Vucevic who drew praise from head coach Billy Donovan and vice president Arturas Karnisovas for durability.
He was one of just three players to put up at least a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double and appear in at least 70 games in 2022.
Vucevic was also the first big roster move Karnisovas made.
“They would much rather just bring him back, maybe even extend him,” noted the executive, “then see if he plays better.”
That is a common refrain in some form or fashion for several Bulls players this coming season, namely Coby White and Patrick Williams. Williams was Karnisovas’ first draft pick as the Bulls’ basketball czar.
White is a holdover from the previous regime and has been on the trade block for the last year.
He was also included in an earlier version of a trade package that would have brought Oubre to Chicago.
The executive also says the Hornets are “not desperate” to get a deal done. But it would behoove them to get something back in return if they are already sure that they won’t be offering Oubre another contract next offseason.
Looking at Everything
The positive spin on the Bulls’ offseason is that they have followed through on their plan for continuity. But a closer look shows several attempts at going in different directions than they ultimately went to no avail.
In the end, they came away with the goal they set out for.
But they clearly have an idea of the ceiling this group has. How high that is in comparison to popular opinion remains to be seen. But the Bulls have shown that they are loyal, not foolish. That means we cannot dismiss any potential move that makes sense as this does in many ways.