When training camp begins next month, the Chicago Bulls will have some business to attend to.
All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic is heading into the final year of his contract this season. For a while, rumors swirled as to whether or not the Bulls would seek to use his expiring contract as part of an upgrade at the position. However, with the season fast approaching and the front office’s commitment to continuity, it has become clear that Vucevic remains a key piece of the puzzle. And it looks like the Bulls plan to keep it that way.
According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, contract extension talks between Vucevic and the Bulls could take place when training camp opens next fall:
News flash: Vucevic is still with the Bulls.
And not only is he still with the Bulls, but a source has said both parties want him to stay with the team beyond the final year of his contract this coming season and will have initial discussions about what to do next. what it might look like when training camp begins in the fall.
Cue the angry tweets!
After a bad season for Vucevic, I expect a handful of Bulls fans to express their concern over this news. But I wouldn’t. Not only are these just “initial discussions”, but I don’t think the idea of having these discussions should be that scary.
As frustrated as some were with his performance this season, Vucevic is still considered one of the best starting centers in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, he continues to possess an offensive skill set that matches extremely well with how Donovan and that front office prefer to play (whether as a ground spacer, passer, or screen). We also have to remember that he was the first major investment for this front office, and one year less likely won’t drastically change how they view his role with the franchise going forward.
On the contrary, we should take some comfort in knowing that the Bulls will enter these discussions with the top. Vucevic is an aging center coming off a bumpy season, giving Arturas Karnisovas and Co. considerable leverage. In other words, I wouldn’t expect them to extend Vucevic for an absurd amount, nor would I expect Vucevic to walk into the conversation with too much of a head. Although he has every right to play his ass off in a contract year and enter the next offseason as a marquee free agent, he is currently playing for the best team of his career. Making sure he stays in that environment could be important to him.
Either way, I’m sure as we get closer to training camp, we’ll have more information on the extent of those conversations. The thing is, both sides were going to sit down at some point to come to an agreement. The big question has always been whether or not they can find common ground. We will see.