Chicago Bulls are making Nikola Vucevic work for his money

Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images) /

Averaging 16.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists with a sweet 37.4% shooting stroke from deep, not many centers in the NBA offer the three-level production that Nikola Vucevic does for the Chicago Bulls. Still, with his contract set to expire heading into this offseason, it’s hard to escape the sense that he’s playing to keep his job past this year.

Entering this season, the general preconception was that Vucevic would ultimately re-sign with the Bulls. Reports that negotiations had begun started as early as Summer League and preseason training camp, as previously indicated by the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley.

With how much the front office gave up to acquire Vucevic in the first place, it makes sense that they’d want to secure their investment and get him locked up long-term. However, talks may not have progressed as far as we were initially led to believe.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reports to the contrary in an article published on December 15.

"There are no ongoing contract extension conversations between the Bulls and Nikola Vucevic, sources told Yahoo Sports. Chicago never truly had significant negotiations to restructure its starting center’s deal. Whether that points to greater trade activity with the Bulls, of course, remains to be seen. Chicago officials have told inquiring teams they believe they can make the playoffs when healthy."

Nikola Vucevic must continue his solid play if he hopes to land a contract extension with the Chicago Bulls.

Considering the secrecy regarding Billy Donovan’s reported extension and the fact that the status of Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine’s injuries seemed almost intentionally obscured entering the season, it’s become increasingly hard to know what just to believe when it comes the front office’s intentions.

But if Vucevic can maintain his current level of play, it’s hard to deny the odds of him staying on the team past this season increase with each subsequent dominant performance. The positive impact he’s currently having on this team would simply be irreplaceable in free agency.

Chicago has now emerged victorious in their last three contests — all on the road against favored teams — to snap their losing streak thanks in large part to Vooch’s efforts. If the Chicago Bulls can continue their winning ways to dig themselves out of this hole then it will be difficult to keep advocating for a shake-up of the roster come the offseason.

Ultimately, his asking price in free agency will likely determine his fate in Chicago, as the Bulls already have $89 million dedicated to the trio of DeRozan, LaVine, and Lonzo Ball next season, with Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu also set to hit free agency this summer. If Vucevic wants that last big payday of his career, he’s going to have to earn it on the court.

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