Most of the offseason discourse has surrounded Zach LaVine’s decision in free agency after he left room for doubt in his exit interview. Aldridge notes that it is unlikely that the Los Angeles Lakers end up with LaVine adding not to assume a return either.
Vucevic is presented as an additional concern in the article addressing what the teams eliminated in the first round are facing this offseason.
Chicago, Aldridge writes, must determine whether or not to give the two-time All-Star a contract extension.
Cause for Pause on Vooch
Vucevic averaged 17.6 points and 11.0 rebounds during the regular season and 19.4 points with 12.4 boards in the playoffs. The numbers, though, can be a bit deceiving as he shot his lowest true shooting percentage since 2018.
That applies to Vucevic on defense as well.
He was eighth in defensive rating among centers this season (109.6), per StatMuse. Individual defensive rating is, of course, a noisy stat, so if you like RAPTOR from FiveThirtyEight.com better, Vucevic ranked 19th in defensive box score among centers.
Vucevic’s efficiency differential ranked ahead of only youngsters Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams, per Cleaning the Glass. His offensive rating ranked in the 54th percentile and his defensive rating ranked in the 38th percentile.
There is the belief that a return to health for Lonzo Ball will alleviate some of the issues that plagued the big man, especially down the stretch.
The 11-year veteran shot 33.3% from beyond the arc before the Bulls’ point guard went down which was already his worst mark since 2018. But he shot just 29.7% from deep from January 15 on after Ball was lost to his bone bruise and meniscus surgery.
Thinking Ahead Could Disrupt Continuity
Vuevic is heading into the final season of a four-year. $100 million deal, per Spotrac, with a cap hit of $22 million. He has averaged 18.7 points and 11.2 boards with a .538 true shooting percentage since being traded to the Bulls at the 2021 trade deadline.
He was one of just six players to average at least 17 points and 11 rebounds during the regular season. But his next deal could take him beyond his useful years.
It’s not that Vucevic isn’t still a top-12 center; he is. But he’s also going to be 32 next season. A long-term extension would take him past 35. Chicago will have to think this out, thoroughly.
That plus the need for two-way players around supreme scorers like DeRozan and LaVine who aren’t great defenders could force the issue for the Bulls who have preached a message of continuity after having the season disrupted by injury as it was.
Of course, Vucevic’s availability was one of the things Bulls head coach Billy Donovan cited when commending his center during his exit interview. The big man finished third on the team and 13th among all centers with 73 games played during the regular season.
Vucevic’s Future Up in the Air
At least one executive believes that Vuceivc can be had in a deal with Coby White this offseason and that the pair plus a draft pick could fetch a hefty sum on the trade market. Getting the right fit could be tricky, though.
Vucevic was the first major move made by Karnisovas.
As is believed to be the case with Patrick Williams, it makes sense for Karnisovas to want to give Vucevic and the group in general more time. But there is a fine line between continuity and missed opportunity.