Marc Eversley details why Bulls retained Nikola Vučević, Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Any time Chicago Bulls management fielded a question about its desire to retain its main pending free agents, the answer remained consistent.
We want to re-sign them.
Artūras Karnišovas, Marc Eversley and their staff then put their money where their mouths were, re-signing Nikola Vučević, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu even as they added newcomers Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig in free agency.
In an appearance on the Bulls Talk Podcast taped on Saturday outside the United Center as the franchise’s second annual Bulls Fest played out around him, Eversley detailed why the franchise sought to retain each player and predicted success for each.
“I’m excited for Vooch,” Eversley said on the podcast. “There’s not many starting centers in the NBA. So if Vooch were to go away, how would you replace him? Those options were just not appealing to us. So retaining him became the No. 1 goal of the offseason.”
Indeed, the Bulls utilized their exclusive negotiating period to re-sign Vučević to a three-year, $60 million deal before the 12-year veteran hit unrestricted free agency.
Vučević, who turns 33 the day before the Oct. 25 season opener, played all 82 games last season for the first time. He averaged 17.6 points, 11 rebounds and 3.2 assists for the second straight season, this time shooting 52 percent overall and 34.9 percent from 3-point range.
As for White, the Bulls reached a verbal agreement on the opening night of free agency on a three-year deal worth $36 million that could increase to $40 million if incentives are reached.
White, 23, averaged a career-low 9.7 points last season but drew almost universal praise for authoring the most completely season of his four-year career.
“Coby White had I thought a terrific year last year. I think the growth he has shown over the last three years has been second to nobody on the roster,” Eversley said. “I think his ability to shoot (and) he’s much more comfortable handling it now. He doesn’t get pressured or panic anymore.
“He has found his voice in the locker room. He has become a quiet leader. We’ve seen growth and development from him. And that’s why it was critical to bring him back.”
When the Bulls also reached verbal agreement with Carter on the opening night of free agency, Dosunmu’s future with his hometown franchise seemed in jeopardy on a guard-heavy roster. Instead, the restricted free agent signed a three-year, $21 million deal as a depth and development piece as the salary cap continues to climb.
“Ayo, obviously, a Chicago kid (has) a different pride wearing a Bulls uniform,” Eversley said. “He was kind of thrust into it his rookie year, started a bunch of games. He was leaned on heavily last year and started a bunch of games as well.
“He would not argue with me; he didn’t have quite the second year he thought he might’ve. Call it a sophomore slump. But we’ve seen him in the Advocate Center and how hard he has worked from the end of the season to today and there’s nothing but good things that are going to happen to him.”
Dosunmu’s averages of 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists closely resembled those from his rookie season, when he earned second-team All-Rookie honors. But his 3-point shooting dropped from 37.6 to 31.2 percent, a focal point for his offseason work.
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