Signing Vucevic would be a lateral move for the Nets, Heat, Mavericks, and Raptors, but they might convince themselves they need to make a leap.
Nicolas Claxton is having a breakout season for the Brooklyn Nets proving himself as a top-notch shot blocker and a switchable defender. It feels unlikely that a semi-rebuilding team such as the Nets would spend their cap space on a 32-year-old center, but the Nets are a possibility. Additionally, I think Vooch and Claxton could be a surprisingly nice on-court duo as they have the exact opposite skills to cover each other’s weaknesses.
The Heat of course already have Bam Adebayo anchoring the center position and have tons of long-term money locked up. It seems hard to imagine that they will find a way to create money for Vooch, especially when Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Victor Oladipo will all be up for new deals. Miami has developed a reputation for overpaying to retain their own talent, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them commit the same mistake once again.
The only situation in which the Mavericks will have cap space is if Kyrie Irving AND Christian Wood leave. The idea of the Mavericks getting Vooch as a consolation prize after Kyrie leaves doesn’t really sound like it is going to push the needle. Meanwhile, the Raptors will almost certainly re-sign Jakob Poeltl who they spent draft capital to acquire at the trade deadline earlier this year.
I only view the following teams as real threats to signing Vooch: The Hornets (they are crazy and have space), Rockets (no pick means win now), and Nets.
Here’s how much the Bulls can expect to pay in order to retain Nikola Vucevic.
Personally, if I were the Bulls’ front office, my realistic target range for Vooch would be 13-17.5 million. It is worth mentioning that the per-year amount is highly reliant on the number of years for an older player like Vooch.
If, for example, the Bulls were to offer him a 4-year deal it’s reasonable to think we could get him for closer to 10 million per year while a 1-year deal will be closer to 20. This is because as Vooch continues to age his production will go down and so will his value on the market.
The Hornets and Rockets would really only be looking to sign Vooch if their other plans failed, no Harden, no Wemby, no PJ Washington, and Miles Bridges. The Nets could be a real x-factor but if I were in the Bulls front office, I am not going to bid against a boogie man, I need Vooch and his representation to demonstrate that other teams are making competitive offers. If Vooch signs a deal in the territory of 20 million (or more) per year, I will have lost what remaining hope I have for the Chicago Bulls’ current management regime.