Day one of free agency is officially in the books, and somewhat surprisingly, I can confidently that I’m actually pleased with the front office’s direction of the team thus far. While concerns remain that the Chicago Bulls are still desperately ducking the luxury tax threshold in the name of running a mediocre basketball team out on the court to sell tickets, they’ve yet to make a significant misstep with their limited assets this offseason.
This is particularly crucial, as the Bulls infamously sat out the NBA’s last three transactional cycles in the name of continuity. Having already executed one trade and four free agent signings this summer, it’s clear to see that Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley finally understand that this roster as constructed is not enough.
With that being said, let’s dig in and review the Bulls’ major free agent signings thus far this summer.
Grading every Chicago Bulls signing after Day 1 of free agency.
Nikola Vucevic rejoins the Bulls on a three-year, $60 million contract extension
I’ll admit it, when news of this extension first broke, I wasn’t quick to sing its praises. Bringing Nikola Vucevic back for the long haul just felt like the front office was resigned to running back a mediocre core that clearly is not in the running for a championship. This may have been a fair market rate for Vooch, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the Bulls were bidding against themselves here with no other clear suitors emerging for the big man.
While I still have concerns over Vucevic’s fit an intended role on this roster moving forward, his deal is starting to look a fair bit more reasonable now that the dust has settled on day one. I believe Vucevic is a superior player to Toronto’s Jakob Poeltl, for instance, who also scored a $20 million AAV deal with the Raptors. Even a role player like Bruce Brown got paid more, securing a two-year, $45 million deal with Indiana last night.
The most important thing worth noting here is that the Bulls did not create a big problem for themselves in the future with this deal. Even if they fail to move Vucevic before his contract expires, this value is not terrible and three years is not an overly long sentence to serve. Compare that to some decisions made last night like Houston giving Fred VanVleet $130 million, or Portland inking Jerami Grant to a five-year, $160 million deal, I think I can live with this.