Bulls To Pursue Extension With Nikola Vucevic?

Nikola Vucevic and the Bulls will have initial discussions during training camp regarding a possible extension, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A source told Cowley that both sides want him to remain with the team beyond the final year of his contract. Vucevic is heading into the last season of his front-loaded four-year, $100MM deal that he signed with Orlando. He’ll make $22MM in 2022/23.

Vucevic has been the subject of trade rumors for months. There was heavy speculation that he’d be part of a Rudy Gobert deal with Utah before the All-Star center was dealt to Minnesota. Extending Vucevic on a one-year deal with a player option for the 2024/25 season would make sense for both sides, Cowley speculates.

Chicago may simply have come to the conclusion that an upgrade at center may not be available.

The Bulls front office places a high value on the Vucevic’s professionalism, versatility and consistency. However, there’s no denying that the big man had a rather forgettable 2021/22 season. He averaged 17.6 PPG, his lowest since the 2017-18 season, and shot just 31.4% from 3-point range. He’s a 34.8% career shooter from distance.

In the previous season, when he was acquired by Chicago, he averaged 23.4 PPG and made 40% of his 3-pointers in 70 games between the Bulls and Magic. Cowley notes Vucevic’s touches have dipped after he was more of a focal point in Orlando’s scheme.

The biggest issue with Vucevic is his defensive shortcomings. He’s never been a shot blocker and he has difficulty in pick-and-roll situations. But Chicago was never truly whole last season due to injuries and Vucevic didn’t have the ability to build chemistry at both ends with the core group.

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