The core of Chicago is locked. They’re just the most expanded Zach LaVineplus trio DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball as well as Alex Caruso locked for this and next season. Patrick Williams becomes eligible for an extension after this season if the Bulls also want to enlist his services.
Then there’s Nikola Vucevic, who was once considered part of that core but is now more of a shrug. The former All-Star center averaged 17.6 points and grabbed 11 rebounds per game last season, and he could fill the court as a runner (although he shot 31.4% of 3 last season), but he is not a shot blocker. , moves poorly to the sides and is a target in defense. It doesn’t look like the center of the future in Chicago.
But they can still renew it at a reasonable price, according to a report from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.
… the source said both parties want him to stay with the team past the end of the last year of his contract for the upcoming season and will have initial discussions on what that might look like when training camp begins in the fall.
Why? Because if the price is right, Vucevic remains the type of player who fits in with the way the Bulls were built at both ends of the court.
While the Bulls may want to consider trading for a center like Miles Turner if the goal is to make a jump up in the standings in the East (the bulls were referred to as Rudy Gobert suitors), this will be tricky due to a lack of first round picks they can send (their 2023 and 2025 first round contenders were sent to Orlando to acquire Vucevic in the first place).
That’s why Vucevic can be a smart extension at the right price – but what is that price? He’s set to make $22 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $100 million contract (signed by the Magic). This salary puts Vucevic on par with Turner. Jarrett Allen, Clint Capelaand slightly higher than Yusuf Nurkich.
Would a two-year, $36-38 million extension work for both parties? That would make Vucevic still very attractive to the Bulls (especially if he finds his 3-point shot again), but would pay him roughly an average for centers with a similar shot. With the salary cap raised, the Bulls could get two years and $40 million.
Whatever the number, don’t be surprised if the parties make a deal. The extra security makes sense for both the team and the player.