Trading Nikola Vucevic now would be massive mistake for Bulls

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

By shuffling the deck in the offseason of 2021, I believe the Chicago Bulls unintentionally invited a whole host of impatient fans and hasty armchair general managers to the fold. Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley have made quick work of reassembling the roster after being put in power, as Zach LaVine and Coby White are the only two remnants of GarPax’s reign that ended just two years ago.

As such, many new members of the fanbase seem to believe that all of the Bulls’ issues can be fixed in one night. In their eyes, Chicago is always just one trade or unrealistic signing away from turning the corner and becoming championship contenders.

Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that building a contender isn’t quite as easy as it is on NBA 2K, and dealing away maligned players like Nikola Vucevic or Coby White won’t address what’s truly plaguing this team. This line of thought can be quite pervasive, as it seems to have even infected a rival Eastern Conference Executive.

Sean Deveny of reports that this executive believes Charlotte would be a fitting trade destination for Chicago’s Nikola Vucevic.

"“Charlotte is one other team that has looked for a big guy but they’re not desperate to do it. If you’re Chicago and you could get Gordon Hayward in a deal like that, I think you give that a go even with the injury stuff. But more likely, you’re looking at Mason Plumlee and someone like Kelly Oubre. The Bulls gave up two picks for Vuc, they’re going to want something in return if they trade him. They would much rather just bring him back, maybe even extend him, then see if he plays better,” the executive noted."

Although he’s hit a few bumps along the road, trading Nikola Vucevic at this time would be an unforgivable error by the Chicago Bulls.

As far as the actual caliber of player goes, Gordon Hayward actually isn’t such a bad starting point. However, given his extensive injury history and the fact that Vucevic has simply been the better player (despite being paid significantly less) over the past few years, I think Chicago could quite easily get even more assets coming their way in this hypothetical.

Vucevic is making a reasonable $22 million on an expiring deal this season, while Hayward is set to make $61.5 million over the next two years. I just don’t see how anyone could possibly think that exchanging the two would be a good value return for the Bulls. With Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball’s injury history, adding yet another player who can never stay healthy to the core feels like a recipe for disaster.

It almost feels like an insult, but this anonymous executive seems to think Charlotte would be hesitant to offer Hayward, and would instead coax the Bulls into a deal surrounding Kelly Oubre and Mason Plumlee. Even if the Hornets attach draft capital, this trade proposal is so objectively terrible from Chicago’s point of view that it would make the Chicago Bulls a significantly worse team — effectively ending the DeMar DeRozan era before it even truly got started.

If this doesn’t prove that Vucevic’s trade value has hit an all-time low, I don’t know what will. The Bulls cannot allow rival executives to even entertain the thought of such an embarrassing offer. Yes he had a down year, but Vucevic is just too good of a player to even be mentioned in the same sentence of a trade rumor as Oubre and Plumlee.

In fact, I’d rather Vucevic just walk for nothing in free agency than accept this offer. Both Oubre and Plumlee are on expiring contracts as well, so there’s no incentive here for the Bulls to intentionally downgrade unless they truly covet a draft pick from Charlotte that badly. Instead of acquiring net negative assets and wasting years of this core’s prime, the Chicago Bulls should be actively looking to get better, not worse.

Even if Chicago did wish to trade Vucevic, there’s always the chance he has a bounce-back season and significantly increases his trade value. Weak offers such as Oubre, Plumlee, and draft picks will always still be on the table closer to the trade deadline, so why not give the big man a chance to play himself into prominence at the center position once again?

Then, Chicago could trade him for even more, or perhaps even extend Nikola Vucevic on a multi-year deal. Either way, trading Vucevic away right now makes absolutely no sense and would be a critical error for a front office whose only real mistake thus far has been trading for him in the first place. Let’s not botch it again this time, shall we?

B/R proposes nonsensical Coby White trade. dark. Next