The Bulls must avoid overspending on veteran free agents like Nikola Vucevic
After the 2021-22 season, I was firmly rooted among the biggest critics of the decision to trade for Nikola Vucevic. It was a win-now move where the Bulls actually got worse following the trade, all while the pick Chicago traded away ended up becoming an All-Rookie First Team selection in Franz Wagner.
Now that a year has passed since then, I can still confidently hold onto my opinion that the trade was a bad decision. That being said, Vucevic did a lot to sway critics like me back to a less pessimistic viewpoint this season. He was Chicago’s most dependable player this season, consistently dominating the boards and providing a moderately high scoring output.
That being said, emptying the piggy bank for Vucevic this offseason would be an egregious mistake. We’ve seen several contenders around the league get far more out of their centers for far less money. Brook Lopez, Kevon Looney, and Nicolas Claxton (before Brooklyn blew it all up) all provided significant value for their teams for pennies on the dollar.
In the modern NBA, your center should ideally be able to do three things: space the floor, protect the rim, and dominate the boards. If your center can only do one or two of things very well — like Vooch — then you’re probably better off investing heavily elsewhere while trying to get good value per dollar out of the center position.
Fortunately, Vucevic has expressed he’s prioritizing winning over money at this point in his career. Whether or not he believes this Bulls team can genuinely contend for a title is certainly a question worth asking, but he has thus far indicated he would like to return if the front office wants him back.