Center Nikola Vucevic reportedly wants more touches in the Chicago Bulls offense in the 2023-24 season.
The Bulls and Vucevic reportedly agreed on a three-year, $60 million extension on Wednesday, keeping the two-time All-Star from hitting free agency.
Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic is finalizing a three-year, $60M contract extension, his agents Bill Duffy and Rade Fillipovich tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2023
According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, Vucevic’s role in the team’s offense was brought up in negotiations.
“A source said that Vucevic had several conversations with coach Billy Donovan about how he was used in the offense; that came up in the negotiations,” Cowley wrote. “Vucevic would like to see more touches, allowing him to be a playmaker or attack in the paint, especially when he feels he has a mismatch.”
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.
The former first-round pick 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.
However, Vucevic only attempted 14.0 shots per game in the 2022-23 season, his lowest since the 2016-17 season.
The Bulls have a lot of mouths to feed on offense among Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, but it seems like the big man thinks he can help the team win with more touches on a nightly basis.
The Bulls made the playoffs in the 2021-22 season as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, but they took a step back in the 2022-23 season.
Chicago ended up with the No. 10 seed in the East, and although it won a game in the league’s play-in tournament, it ended up missing the playoffs.
By bringing Vucevic back, the Bulls seem to be revealing that they are content with keeping the core of him, DeRozan and LaVine together for at least one more season. DeRozan is entering the final season of a three-year deal in the 2023-24 campaign.
Had the team let Vucevic reach free agency, it seems possible the Bulls would have considered trading DeRozan or LaVine (or both) in an attempt to rebuild the roster. Instead, the Bulls look to be running it back.
Donovan and the Bulls coaching staff will have all offseason to scheme how they can get the ball to Vucevic more in an attempt to move back into the playoff picture in the East next season.