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 make a deep run in the postseason.
At the moment, everything rests on the decision of star guard Zach LaVine. LaVine is entering free agency and is drawing interest from multiple teams around the league. While several teams are in on the LaVine sweepstakes, no team can offer as much money as the Bulls.
Some reports indicate that LaVine is expected to sign a five-year max contract to return to Chicago. However, you never know until free agency commences.
If LaVine returns, the Bulls can focus on building the rest of their roster. Chicago has Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic under contract for a significant amount of money. Signing LaVine to a max contract leaves Chicago with minimal cap space to make other moves via free agency.
A trade will be the route to go if the Bulls don’t want to run back the same roster. With that said, here is one player the Bulls must trade in the 2022 NBA offseason.
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1 Player Bulls Must Trade – Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic had a slow start to the season, and it was an overall down year. He averaged solid numbers, with 17.6 points and 11 rebounds per contest. Vucevic shot 47.3 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from downtown. These numbers were below his career averages.
He is an offensive-minded center, and his efficiency diminished this season. The Bulls have scorers in DeRozan and LaVine (assuming he re-signs) and could use a defensive anchor. Ball is a good perimeter defender, but Chicago could use an interior presence.
Vucevic is entering the final year of his contract, which will be worth $ 22 million. Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been a rumored target for Chicago, who is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner. The Jazz have a questionable future as another early playoff exit has sparked questions on the future of the Donovan Mitchell and Gobert duo.
Vucevic’s defense is not horrendous, but the Bulls could use someone that will control the paint defensively.
Gobert would be an ideal fit for the Bulls, and Vucevic could be a part of that deal. This season, Gobert averaged 15.6 points and blocked 2.1 shots per game. He led the league in rebounds with 14.7 rebounds and a league-leading 71.3 percent from the field.
If Chicago can’t get a deal for Gobert done, they could look for draft capital and role players from a team looking at an upgrade at center.
Trading Vucevic along with one of their young players or draft picks is the easiest route to upgrade the roster. If not, the Bulls’ ceiling remains a playoff team, as they wouldn’t have enough to get past contenders like the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago is a storied NBA franchise, but they have not been to the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan was with them. While the Bulls don’t have a superstar as they did during the Jordan era, they have a solid core of players. Ball was having an excellent first season with Chicago before he went down with an injury.
A healthy Ball with LaVine and DeRozan is a solid place to start, and upgrading the center position could make them a team to watch out for in the East.
While the Bulls’ top priority this offseason is getting LaVine back, moving Vucevic could help them improve the rest of the roster.