Nikola Vucevic rumored to be seeking extension with the Chicago Bulls

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The 2022 NBA free agency period has yet to even begin, but the stars are already aligning for important financial moves to be made by several teams in 2023 and beyond. For the Chicago Bulls, the impending free agency of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic has to be at the forefront of the front office’s mind.

Owed $22 million next year, Vucevic is free to hit unrestricted free agency after the 2022-23 season concludes. The amount of interest he’ll be able to generate will likely largely depend on his ability to have a bounceback season for the Bulls. For a big man set to turn 32 years old before this season begins, long-term security has to be what he’s chasing.

Hopefully, that means Vucevic will submit a much-improved performance this season as he looks to maximize his earning potential in a contract year. Vucevic’s performance is essential to this team’s ability to win, as seen by their 26-15 record when he scores 20 or more points; Meanwhile, Chicago is 26-32 when Vooch scores less than 20 points in a game.

ESPN’s Jonathon Givony confirmed that “Vooch wants an extension” with the Chicago Bulls on The Lowe Post podcast. Unfortunately, Givony didn’t dive deeper into this information as it was just a tangent of a larger discussion of the NBA’s current trade market.

With just one year left on his contract, Nikola Vucevic looks to the future and reportedly wishes to remain with the Chicago Bulls.

This news may come as a bit of a surprise to some, as Vucevic has suffered through his fair share of struggles during his short Bulls tenure. Vucevic’s play noticeably dipped this past season compared to his last three and a half seasons spent in Orlando, so it becomes much harder to pinpoint where exactly his value is in today’s NBA.

Vucevic’s main appeal is his ability to be a floor-spacing big, which he would be banking on in any contract negotiations. However, it’s hard to justify giving big money to a “floor-spacing big” that just shot 31.4% on 3-point attempts despite leading the league in wide-open shot attempts.

It’s hard to envision any scenario where Vucevic re-signs with the Bulls without the expectation to continue being the starting center, so this may feed into the belief that the Rudy Gobert trade rumors are nothing but a smokescreen. Then again, the simplest explanation may just be that Vooch wants to get paid regardless of what team he’s on. If he fails to have a strong year this season, his prospects on the open market will take significant damage.

I think it’s great if Vucevic genuinely wants to re-sign with the Bulls to continue playing alongside this team. I also think that re-signing Nikola now would be a massive case of playing your hand too early. There’s nothing to be gained by giving Vucevic a big contract before he’s proved he deserves it, and it would only serve to limit Chicago’s long-term flexibility.

For that reason, I wouldn’t read into this too much. Vucevic is far from a guarantee to even still be on the team a month from now, let alone following 2023’s free agency period.

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