The Bulls are among the teams with interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. O’Connor reports that Chicago has its eye on a number of centers who could be available this offseason, including unrestricted free agent Mitchell Robinson.
Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls’ current starting center, is coming off a 2021/22 season in which he averaged 17.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game on .473/.314/.760 shooting in 73 games (33.1 MPG). That scoring average was Vucevic’s lowest since 2017/18, though that was largely about him taking on a complementary offensive role in Chicago alongside Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan after a few years of being the go-to guy in Orlando.
If the Bulls were to make a play for Gobert, Vucevic would almost certainly have to be included in their trade offer, both for salary-matching purposes and due to their on-court incompatibility.
Gobert, of course, is a much better defender than Vucevic and less of an offensive weapon, which might be a better fit for the Bulls, especially if LaVine is re-signed. However, Gobert also represents the far more significant financial commitment — he’s under contract for nearly $170MM over the next four years, while Vucevic will have a $22MM expiring deal.
If the Bulls hang onto Vucevic this offseason, they’ll likely pursue a more affordable backup center. It’s unclear if a free agent like Robinson would be willing to accept such a role, but perhaps he’d be intrigued by the opportunity if there’s a potential path to a larger role after Vucevic’s contract expires. The Bulls will also have the option of negotiating an extension with Vucevic.
Chicago will be over the cap this offseason, assuming LaVine returns, but should have the full mid-level exception available to offer potential free agent targets.
O’Connor adds that he has also heard the rumblings – previously relayed by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report – that the Raptors have interest in Gobert.