Despite getting eliminated in the first round, the 2021-22 season was a massive success for the Chicago Bulls. They snapped a four-year playoff drought thanks to the solid play of their new-look core. Unfortunately, they took a step back this past year, getting bounced in the Play-In Tournament.
Now, they will have some tough decisions to make this summer. Blowing up the roster could be a solid option, but Arturas Karnisovas has made it clear that he does not intend to start a rebuild. In turn, Chicago must decide what to do with their current core. And one of the players, big man Nikola Vucevic, could be asking for a raise this offseason.
Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and at 32 years old, his next deal will take him into his mid-30s. However, KC Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago believes that the big man could ask for a raise, as he just played a full 82-game season.
“This may be better answered by posing my own question: Do you think a player who just played all 82 games and finished third in the NBA in double-doubles is going to ask for a raise? Because I do,” Johnson wrote when asked about what fair value could be in a Vucevic deal.
Johnson thinks Chicago should look to hand him a short-term contract.
“Now, in a market where most teams projected to have significant salary cap space are rebuilding, can Vucevic get more than the $22 million he made last season on the open market?” Johnson wrote. “He and Brook Lopez are the biggest available names at center.
“I think a good solution might be to do a short-term deal at slightly above his 2022-23 salary. Say, two years and $48-50 million or three years at $66-72 million. Remember: Letting Vucevic walk for nothing after what the Bulls gave up to acquire him would be a bad look. And for all the focus on Vucevic’s shortcomings, he remains a durable, double-double machine who has the skill level and IQ to fit with various personnel.”
Vucevic is a solid player, but the Bulls have to look in the mirror and figure out how much they are willing to pay him.
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Story originally appeared on Lonzo Wire