There Are “No Ongoing” Discussions About a Nikola Vucevic Extension … So What Comes Next?

As the losses pile up, it’s hard to know what will come of the Chicago Bulls.

Opposing teams around the league are crossing their fingers, toes, eyes, arms, and legs that the organization decides to press the bright red SELL button. While the roster might be performing poorly, no one can deny that it’s full of players who are ready to contribute to contending teams around the league.

However, with that being the case, the Bulls seemingly believe they still have a chance to transform into one of those contending teams, themselves. Every prayer to the basketball gods by other teams has come tied to a report about Arturas Karnisovas’ unwillingness to throw in the towel. So the Bulls very well might remain dead-set on building a winning product, but even that path can’t be void of change.

Regardless of the specific direction this team decides to go, they have to answer one major looming question: Will Nikola Vucevic wear a Bulls uniform next season?

In the final year of his deal and eligible for an extension, initial reports this offseason said that the two sides planned to talk at the start of training camp. Those discussions ultimately led nowhere, and it appears as if things are expected to remain that way for the rest of the season.

According to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer, the Bulls and Vucevic are not currently working on a new deal. The two also didn’t talk in earnest about his future in the offseason either.

“There are no ongoing contract extension conversations between the Bulls and Nikola Vucevic, sources told Yahoo Sports. Chicago never truly had significant negotiations to restructure its starting center’s deal. Whether that points to greater trade activity with the Bulls, of course, remains to be seen.”

While Vucevic has performed better this season, the absence of any groundwork on an extension practically confirms that the Bulls are doubting whether he should remain a part of their future. And that’s certainly a big deal as trade season inches closer and closer.

Even if the hope is still for this organization to make a playoff run, the Bulls aren’t a good enough team to justify keeping Vucevic off the market, especially if the plan isn’t to re-sign him. The best option is always to get something instead of nothing, right? And I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine that a handful of contenders would express genuine interest in Vucevic’s experience, rebounding, and shotmaking.

Not to mention, who is to say the Bulls can’t also add a more defensive-minded center and some shooting mid-season? Desiring someone like Jakob Poeltl might be a waste of time, but we’ve seen this front office get creative before (not to mention, they reportedly had their eye on him last year). What about more affordable names like Nerlens Noel or Richaun Holmes? For what it’s worth, I’ll do more research on the center market in the coming weeks for a better discussion.

All I’m saying right now is that there could be ways to plug that position with a suitable veteran and still have your eyes set on a playoff series, especially if you also add some shooting in the process.

The other option, of course, is for the Bulls to continue this journey and hope that they can work out a sign-and-trade for Vucevic in the offseason. This could be a reasonable route, but you also want to maximize the value of your player. Vucevic will likely hold far more value mid-season than when the rest of the league knows for sure that the Bulls don’t want to re-sign him.

Anyway, all of this is just a long-winded way of saying the Bulls simply have to consider trading Vucevic. Maybe a deal doesn’t get done and maybe this team really does turn things around. But if Vucevic isn’t a part of the long-term plans right now, then you have to begin to think about what comes next.

written by

Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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