Chicago Bulls free agent center Nikola Vucevic reportedly is willing to give the team a hometown discount this offseason.
The Bulls, who acquired Vucevic in a trade with the Orlando Magic during the 2020-21 season, have to decide whether or not they want to run it back with their core of Vucevic, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
“Besides prepping for the draft, the Bulls also have been trying to find common ground on an extension for Vucevic,” the Chicago Sun Times’ Joe Cowley wrote. “The Sun-Times reported earlier this month that a three-year deal was likely, and sources indicated that Vucevic was willing to give the Bulls a hometown discount.”
If Vucevic takes a pay cut to stay in Chicago, that would be huge for the team going forward, especially since DeRozan is entering the last season of his contract and would eventually need an extension.
The Bulls made the Eastern Conference play-in tournament last season, but the team was knocked out by the Miami Heat in the battle for the No. 8 seed. Miami went on to make the NBA Finals out of that spot.
Chicago committed some major draft assets and young big man Wendell Carter Jr. to acquire Vucevic, so losing him for nothing in unrestricted free agency would certainly be a major blow.
The good news for Bulls fans is that it seems he’s willing to come back and also willing to take a hometown discount.
During the 2022-23 season, Vucevic appeared in all 82 games for the Bulls and played 33.5 minutes per game. He’s only missed nine total games over the last two seasons for Chicago.
A two-time All-Star, Vucevic averaged 17.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 0.7 blocks per game in the 2022-23 campaign. He also shot 52.0 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.
If the Bulls truly believe in the core of DeRozan, Vucevic and LaVine, it could make sense to run things back for at least one more season with DeRozan under contract for the 2023-24 campaign.
Should the team fall short in that season, then it may decide to build the roster in a new way.
Vucevic should command some solid interest this offseason since he’s one of the best big men on the open market.