Nikola Vucevic Trade is Officially Paid Off
When Mark Tatum held up the card on Tuesday night, it became official.
The Chicago Bulls have now paid off their trade with the Orlando Magic for big man Nikola Vucevic. The last piece of compensation will come in the form of the No. 11 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Here’s a complete look at the final terms:
Magic get …
– No. 8 pick in 2021 NBA Draft (Franz Wagner)
– No. 11 pick in 2023 NBA Draft (TBD)
– Wendell Carter Jr.
– Otto Porter
Bulls get …
– Nikola Vucevic
– Al-Farouq Aminu
While the Magic still have to prove their rebuild will lead to winning, there is no question they have walked away from this trade with the upper hand. Their decision to overhaul their roster netted them two top-11 picks from the Bulls in addition to several of their own lottery picks. For example, they selected Paolo Banchero at No. 1 overall last season and will also hold the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have one five-game first-round exit to show for since acquiring Vucevic at the 2020-21 trade deadline. He did put together a nice individual season in his tertiary role this year, but the team finished just 40-42 and missed the postseason altogether. Not to mention, the Bulls now have to pay the big man a new deal or risk losing him for nothing, as Vucevic hits unrestricted free agency in the coming months.
I don’t want to turn this into a post that bashes Vucevic. I think he has mostly been given an unwarranted amount of flack for his role in the Bulls’ struggles. He didn’t decide to jeopardize that much of the team’s future flexibility for his services! All he’s doing is filling the role the team put him in. And he actually did that rather well by appearing in all 82 games this past season.
Also, it’s not like I didn’t enjoy the trade at the time. I did. If you go back into the BN Bulls archives, you can see that I talked myself into the deal pretty darn fast. I believe I did express some concern over the draft capital spent, but I loved the direction in which the new front office decided to go. It was an aggressive move in a win-now direction after years of the franchise doing the opposite.
Where the real problem rests, however, is in the sudden lack of aggression after the following offseason. After the Bulls went on to add Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso, they sat on their hands for three-straight transactional periods. We ranted about this after the most recent of those transaction periods, the 2022-23 trade deadline, here.
You can’t just stop in the middle of the road. You either have to keep going forward until you reach an exit or revert course to pick a new path. What the Bulls decided to do is merge onto the highway, reach 90 MPH, and come to the kind of sharp stop that creates an ugly accident. And that’s why the Nikola Vucevic trade has left a remarkably bad taste in our mouths.
Regardless, I guess the past is in the past. The Bulls can finally move forward without owing Orlando anything, which is at least a somewhat comforting feeling. They’ll also get to move forward with just one future first headed elsewhere. The San Antonio Spurs own their 2025 pick as part of the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade. While that still hampers them quite a bit since they can’t trade either the 2024 or 2026 pick in advance, they’ll at least have those selections to take a youngster with if things stay south!
Speaking of draft picks … here’s a little more on how the Bulls could make a splash in June: