2-Time All-Star Set for Divorce With Bulls, Says Insider

Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine

Getty Zach LaVine #8, Nikola Vucevic #9, Chicago Bulls

In a December 21 The Athletic story, Chicago Bulls insider Darnell Mayberry, along with the other writers on staff, made one prediction each about the team that they cover. In Mayberry’s case, he predicted that the Bulls would trade Nikola Vučević but also revealed that Vučević’s time with the Bulls is likely coming to an end soon whether they trade him or not.

“The Bulls took a big swing acquiring the veteran center at the trade deadline two seasons ago. But his fit has been clunky, and now he’s in the final year of his contract. Vučević isn’t likely to re-sign with the Bulls. And with the team underperforming, his time in Chicago is coming to an end — before his contract expires. This season, Chicago’s net rating has been better with Vučević on the bench (0.9) compared to when he plays (minus-3.0),” Mayberry said.

The Bulls are currently 12-18 and are the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference. If their subpar performance continues, it’s hard seeing them keeping Vučević around long-term.

Lakers Have Monitored Vučević, DeMar DeRozan

In a December 21 Bleacher Report story, Eric Pincus reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have been monitoring the Bulls’ situation.

“Los Angeles has long monitored the Chicago situation, with DeRozan and Vučević potential targets,” Pincus said.

While talking about a possible trade involving DeRozan and Vučević, Pincus added that Vučević could be open to being traded, then extended should that option be on the table.

“DeRozan, 33, is under contract at $27.3 million (with another season at $28.6 million.) Vučević, 32, is an expiring $22.0 million but could be open to an extend-and-trade in the right situation.”

Pincus then asked what other teams could potentially be interested in Vučević besides the Lakers as well as pointing out that the Bulls don’t have many options at their behest outside of the Lakers.

“What about Vučević? Would teams like the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, or Portland Trail Blazers go after the veteran center?

“Outside of the Lakers’ interest and given each player’s age, the Bulls may not find enough of a return to justify a change of direction.”

The Lakers have Russell Westbrook and his $47.1 million expiring contract to offer to the Bulls on top of multiple first-round picks. Accepting a trade like that on Chicago’s end would indicate that they plan to start over.

Exec: Bulls Could ‘Start’ Rebuild

An Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney that while the Bulls don’t plan to do a complete rebuild this season, they may very well get started on one.

“A full rebuild kind of thing, that is not going to happen this year, but they could get started on it,” the executive told Deveney. “They’re not going to trade away Zach LaVine during the season. They will have an easier time with moving on from DeMar DeRozan if that is where they go, but even that, it is something they would wait until the summer to do rather than try to pull off a move at the deadline.”

Should the Bulls start the rebuild, Deveney revealed that multiple teams will have trade offers ready for Alex Caruso.

“NBA sources tell Heavy Sports that multiple teams are prepared to make offers for guard Alex Caruso should the Bulls make the decision to gauge the market on him,” Deveney said.

An Eastern Conference executive explained to Deveney why teams will be looking into acquiring Caruso.

“If things don’t improve, Caruso is the guy most will be looking at in the short term. He has good trade value and would get something like 15 interested teams if he were up to be dealt,” the exec said.

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