Whether we like it or not, Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley decided to run it back with a lot of the same faces as the Chicago Bulls had in 2022-23. Back in July, fellow Pippen Ain’t Easy writer Austin Carroll assigned the Bulls a C for their approach to the NBA Draft, a B for their contract extension negotiations, and a C- for the way they handled free agency.
Given what we’ve seen from the team thus far, have those grades changed now that we’ve seen what each member of this new roster is capable of? Let’s dive in and expand on how each signing from this summer has performed, and whether or not Chicago’s front office deserves to be commended for the work they did over the offseason.
Bulls doubled down by bringing back several key players, including big men Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond.
The front office started things off in late June by re-signing veteran 32-year-old big man Nikola Vucevic to a three-year, $60 million deal to keep him in Chicago through the 2025-26 season. Vucevic has been great for Chicago since trading for him at the deadline back in early 2021 in a deal with Orlando. Vucevic has been the Bulls’ most reliable presence on the boards, a place where they often lack night to night due to their lack of size on the roster, averaging at least 11 rebounds each of the 3 seasons he has been in Chicago.
Vucevic started off the year awfully slow totaling just 34 points and 25 rebounds in the Chicago Bulls’ first three games of the season, however picking it up in the next three with 58 points and 50 rebounds in those games. Vucevic has steadied out after having a very hot three-game stretch, but he is still a key player to the Chicago Bulls’ success if they want to make the playoffs this season. If Vucevic can become a little more consistent with his three-ball going forward this season, as he has already shown to be a streaky player through 9 games this year thus far.
Meanwhile, Andre Drummond exercised his player option as well to return to Chicago for one more season. While Drummond lacks the outside shooting that Vucevic attains, he is a 15-20 minute-a-night player who has shown productivity in his limited minutes. Coach Billy Donovan started to implement a two-center lineup later in last season running Drummond at the 5 and playing Vucevic at a stretch 4, helping match up to teams who have more size.
Andre Drummond is showing to be a solid role player for Chicago so far this year through 9 games, having nights where he nearly posts a double-double on around 15 minutes per game. Drummond is averaging around 6 points and 5 rebounds per game so far this season. The only way for Drummond to see more minutes would likely be an injury to Nikola Vucevic due to the pace of today’s game. Hopefully, the Bulls front office can bring Drummond back on another short-term deal next summer.