Bulls unlikely to move on from Nikola Vucevic this summer

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

To the disappointment of a certain sect of impatient Chicago Bulls fans, general manager Marc Eversley dealt a harsh blow during his post-draft presser. Despite a plethora of swirling rumors, Nikola Vucevic was in fact not traded during the 2022 NBA Draft. Even more surprisingly, he likely won’t be traded at all this summer.

Eversley confirmed the team’s intention to put pieces around Nikola Vucevic to compensate for a lack of interior defense. Hearing this come from the top seems to indicate that Chicago has no immediate plans to move Vucevic.

NBC’s Rob Schaefer supplied Eversley’s full quote in a recent article.

"“(That is) certainly something that we’ve discussed as a staff, getting somebody to complement what Vooch does, particularly rim protection… Just kind of patrolling that paint and making sure that we have somebody there who can lock it down. It’s something that we intend on addressing. Whether that’s via free agency or trade it’s something that we’re pretty focused on.”"

The Chicago Bulls aim to get “somebody to complement what Vucevic does”, indicating an intention to run it back with the same core.

Given that Vucevic’s value has likely hit a low point after his most recent season with the Bulls, sticking to our cards and seeing if Nikola can bounce back may be in Chicago’s best interest. If the Bulls overpay in assets for a star like Rudy Gobert, it would be extremely difficult to justify the move in the event Vucevic returns to form for a new team.

The Bulls will have several options at their disposal when it comes to improving their rim protection. This may be a safer route to take because the sheer quantity of players that could fill this gap for the Bulls will help prevent the front office from overpaying. Mitchell Robinson, Isaiah Hartenstein, Mo Bamba, Jalen Smith, and JaVale McGee are just a few among the handful of centers the Bulls could look at during this summer’s free agency.

A star center like Gobert is without a doubt a superior talent to Vucevic at this point in their careers. However, Gobert is owed an average of $42 million per year over the next four seasons, while Vucevic is on an expiring contract worth $22 million. Is it really that difficult to believe Vucevic and $20 million in cap flexibility may end up being more valuable than Gobert?

This is especially important because the Bulls won’t have to concede important assets like Patrick Williams, Coby White, or the newly drafted Dalen Terry to bring a replacement for Vucevic to town. Chicago now has an impressive collection of three All-Star caliber players, a genuine Sixth Man of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and a whole host of desirable young talent.

That’s not something you throw away unless you believe you can take a legitimate home run swing for a title. The Chicago Bulls are set up to be good now and for the foreseeable future, throwing it all away because of one down season from Vucevic would not only be an impatient move but also a potentially disastrous decision in the long-term.

dark. Next. Grading the decision to draft Dalen Terry