Bulls Still Shopping Star Amid Latest Reports, Message of ‘Continuity’

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls

Getty Head coach Billy Donovan of the Chicago Bulls talks with his players during a time out

The Chicago Bulls are still exploring the trade market for center Nikola Vucevic ahead of a pivotal offseason. Even though NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson reported on the “Bulls Talk Podcast” that Vucevic was “under the impression” that he would be returning, things do not appear to be settled.

Vucevic has been a hot-button issue all season with one executive telling Heavy’s Sean Deveney that the Bulls knew they needed to move on.

Johnson has pointed out how well Vucevic played on defense when the Bulls were healthy. And Bulls vice president of basketball operations, Arturas Karnisovas, and head coach, Billy Donovan, both cited the big man’s durability in their exit interviews.

Vucevic finished third on the team with 73 appearances during the regular season.


Vooch Still on the Trade Block

This latest update comes from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer who also reported that Zach LaVine is expected to return to the Bulls next season. He reports that Vucevic’s future is far less certain.

The Bulls, Fischer says, are more committed to their other two stars.

The Bulls remain invested in finding the optimal frontcourt lynchpin to pair with LaVine and DeRozan. Chicago continues to explore the trade market for two-time All-Star center Nikola Vucevic.

Securing LaVine was the Bulls’ top priority this summer. With that appearing more likely, their attention had turned to Karnisovas’ vision for improving on the margins. The Bulls have been linked to New York Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson as well as Nic Claxton of the Brooklyn Nets.

Robinson was reported to be thought of as a good fit “alongside” Vucevic while an executive told Deveney that the 23-year-old Claxton could “replace” him in 2023.

Vucevic is coming off of a down year statistically, will turn 32 in October, and is heading into the final year of his contract. One analyst has already put out a cause for pause to the organization over giving the big man another deal.

For what it is worth, he did respond to a post claiming that he “thinks” he will be back next season in jest.

That drew a response from a very important figure in this entire situation.


Bulls Won’t Go There for Gobert

Rudy Gobert happened across Vucevic’s tweet and responded with several laughing emojis. His merely replying set off a wave of jersey swaps and other recruitment pitches. Fischer’s report will fan those flames, but only slightly.

The Bulls remain steadfast in their commitment to Patrick Williams.

[Chicago] has registered interest in Rudy Gobert, but the Bulls do not appear willing to include Patrick Williams alongside Vucevic in a trade package for Gobert.

Williams recently joined DeMar DeRozan for his “summer from hell”. Despite many proposed trades including him for Gobert, an executive told Heavy’s Sean Deveney that they would remain patient with the talented forward.

Clearly, that has not ended the Bulls’ interest in Gobert. They could also face less competition than anticipated.

The Toronto Raptors are not likely to pursue a trade for him since it would cost two of their core pieces, per Raptors host Blake Murphy on the “HoopsHype” podcast. That would leave the Atlanta Hawks as the Bulls’ only serious competition for Gobert, per Fischer, potentially driving the cost down.

Atlanta is still a serious threat if the Bulls’ interest in the four-time All-NBA big man is indeed the target.

Fischer joined Locked On’s “NBA Big Board” podcast to say that the Bulls would include Williams in the deal for “the piece”. It would not seem that they view the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert, as that piece.


Inside-Out on Vucevic

Keep in mind which the directions the rumors around Vucevic are coming from. Johnson, who has a fairly solid read on the pulse of the team has maintained that Vucevic will return. That does not necessarily mean that there have not been exploratory calls, either.

Likewise, those coming from the outside could be from calls other teams have had with the Bulls that had little chance of going any further.

Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus did report that Chicago was among the handful of teams thought to be interested in swapping out their current pivots. He also added the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets as teams potentially interested in acquiring a center this summer.

Those are both younger teams, though, perhaps taking them out of the running for the soon-to-be 30-year-old (and very expensive) Gobert.

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