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Bulls Predicted to Bring Back $100 Million All-Star
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Bulls Predicted to Bring Back $100 Million All-Star

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Bulls vs. Bucks

Getty Bulls vs. Bucks

The Chicago Bulls made the playoffs this season for the first time since 2017. They won 46 games and were the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2022 playoffs and lost in five games. Chicago was led in scoring by DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 20.8 points.

Nikola Vucevic was the Bulls’ second-leading scorer in the Bucks series. The All-Star big man averaged 19.4 points and 12.4 rebounds. Despite Vucevic averaging a double-double, though, some Bulls fans don’t know if the former Orlando Magic star is “a championship-caliber center” in today’s NBA since he’s not a high-level defender.

In his recent mailbag for NBC Sports Chicago, Bulls insider K.C. Johnson was asked if Chicago should trade Vucevic this summer and the veteran reporter predicted that the 31-year-old would be back with the Bulls next season.

“I found it telling how strongly (Arturas) Karnisovas supported Vucevic in his end-of-season session with reporters,” Johnson wrote. “Now, Karnisovas did avoid a question on Vucevic’s status as an extension-eligible player. But Karnisovas paid a significant price to acquire Vucevic. I’d be surprised if he traded him after just one season and change.”

The Bulls acquired Vucevic from the Magic in March 2021. In 99 games with the Bulls, Vucevic is averaging 18.7 points and 11.2 rebounds.


Johnson: Vucevic Trade Was ‘Important’ for Bulls

The Bulls traded Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter and multiple draft picks for the Magic for Vucevic. Although Vucevic is 31 and slow on defense, Johnson believes getting the talented center was “important” for the Bulls.

“I think the trade was important for establishing management’s commitment to winning and what that said to the rest of the league,” Johnson wrote. “The Bulls had fallen out of relevance. The trade suggested management would be aggressive in trying to regain it, which it has.

“As for the trade’s value, I get less hung up on what Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner are doing because I don’t think Carter Jr. would’ve achieved the same results here—things seemed done for him mentally—and there’s no guarantee management would’ve drafted (Franz) Wagner. But as mentioned above, I’m used to covering a managerial regime that prized its first-round picks. And sending out two is a high price. It’s the price for an All-Star for a team needing to establish relevance, but it’s a high price.”

Vucevic signed a four-year, $100 million deal with the Magic in July 2019. He will make $22 million next season and enter unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2023 if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Bulls.


Bulls Exec Likes Vucevic

Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas told reporters during his exit interview that he wants to retain his core and build continuity. He also spoke highly of Vucevic, who averaged 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season.

“He was one of our most durable players,” Karnisovas said about Vucevic. “And I think if you think about the rotations, guards going in and out, wings going in and out, I think he would have been probably the hardest guy to replace, but he stayed available and he’s been a vital part of what we run on offense.”

The Bulls allowed the fourth-most field goals inside of five feet and the ninth-most paint points. Vucevic averaged 1.0 blocks and finished the season with a defensive rating of 109.6.

Source: Heavy

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