The Chicago Bulls ended their four-year playoff drought but were eliminated in the first round. Chicago has a solid roster, but some changes could help them succeed in the postseason.
For now, it’s all down to the decision of star quarterback Zack LaVine. LaVine becomes a free agent and attracts the attention of many teams in the league. Although there are multiple teams in the LaVine draw, no team can offer as much money as the Bulls.
Some reports indicate that LaVine is expected to sign a maximum five-year contract in order to return to Chicago. However, you never know until free will kicks in.
If LaVine returns, the Bulls can focus on building the rest of their roster. Chicago has contracts with Lonzo Ball, Demar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic for a significant amount of money. Signing a maximum contract with LaVine leaves Chicago with minimal space to pay for other activities through free agency.
A trade would be the way to go if the Bulls don’t want to return to the same roster. With that said, here’s one player the Bulls should trade in the 2022 NBA offseason.
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1 Player Bulls Must Trade – Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic started the season slowly and it was a bad year overall. He averaged hard numbers, with 17.6 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Vucevic scored 47.3% from the field and 31.4% from the center. These numbers were below his career averages.
He’s an attacking center, and his effectiveness has declined this season. The Bulls have scorers in DeRozan and LaVine (assuming he re-signs) and they can anchor defensively. Ball is a good perimeter defender, but Chicago could use an inside presence.
Vucevic is entering the final year of his contract, which will be worth $22 million. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert was rumored to be the target of Chicago, who is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner. The Jazz have a dubious future as another early playoff exit raised questions about the future of the duo Donovan Mitchell and Gobert.
Vucevic’s defense isn’t terrible, but the Bulls could use someone to control the paint defensively.
Gobert would be perfect for the Bulls, and Vucevic could be part of that deal. Gobert has averaged 15.6 points and blocked 2.1 shots per game. He led the league in rebounding with 14.7 rebounds and a league-leading 71.3% from the field.
If Chicago can’t get a deal for Gobert, they could find draft capital and role players from a team looking for a raise at center.
Trading Vucevic along with one of their young players or a draft pick is the easiest way to upgrade the roster. If not, then the Bulls’ ceiling remains a playoff team, as they would not be strong enough to beat the likes of the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago is a legendary NBA franchise, but they haven’t been to the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan was with them. While the Bulls don’t have a superstar like they did during the Jordan era, they do have a solid core of players. Ball had a great first season with Chicago before he got injured.
A healthy ball with LaVine and DeRozan is a good place to start, and boosting center position could make them a team to watch in the East.
While the Bulls’ top priority this offseason is LaVine’s return, Vucevic’s move could help them improve the rest of the roster.