Nikola Vucevic’s response to Bulls’ trade rumors could make offseason reality harsher

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls are currently in the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and are looking to make their first playoff run since 2017. The team welcomed 11 newcomers and are on pace to finish with 14 more wins than last season.

However, they have a hit a rough patch fueled by injuries and defensive lapses. The Bulls haven’t been able to find success against elite teams and allow the eighth-most paint points in the NBA. It’s clear that Chicago is in need of interior protection.

If Nikola Vucevic has a defensive awakening in the last couple game and the playoffs, then the Bulls’ offseason may not feature the shakeup that some media members are expecting. If he continues to be a defensive liability without putting up big numbers, though, the Bulls may need to get rid of his expiring contract, which will pay him $22 million next season.

Following their win over the Cavaliers over a week ago, Bulls big Nikola Vucevic was asked about the offseason and his mindset knowing that he could be moved. Vucevic is well aware that his contract expires after the 2022-23 season, and that a poor playoff run can mean he’ll be disposed. But he doesn’t want to think about that.

Nikola Vucevic isn’t thrilled to hear about Bulls trade rumors

"“That’s something that’s totally out of our control as players,’’ Vucevic said, via Joe Cowley of the Chicago-Sun Times. “Our job is to try and go as far as we can, then the front office makes the decision on the team going forward. I was in a limited amount of trade rumors in my time in Orlando, so it’s something I really don’t think about very much. What’s the point of me worrying about that when it’s completely out of my control? That’s how I approach things like that.”"

The Bulls have enough fire power from the backcourt of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference, especially when they have Lonzo Ball to facilitate. They have depth on the bench and quality defenders in Ball, Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams, too.

What the Bulls don’t have, when healthy, is rim protection. Vucevic has never been defensive big dating back to college days. He’s a skilled offensive threat, but his scoring doesn’t outweigh his defensive deficiencies.

It’s worth noting that the team never managed to build proper chemistry due to their constant injuries and roster turnover. Giving the team another year to gel and compete at full strength may show that he is capable of being the third star for this current experiment.

The way Vucevic sees it, he, DeRozan and LaVine have unfinished business.

"“It takes time to build a team when you have so many new players and so many young players,” Vucevic said. “I think we’ve shown that we can play really well. I know lately we haven’t, but that’s part of being a new team, growing together, going through the ups and downs and trying to figure it out. Right now, it doesn’t look great because we’re losing. But things can turn around quickly in the NBA.”"

Now, the question is: does the front office see it the same way and agree?

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