The Chicago Bulls and Nikola Vucevic are reportedly expected to engage in contract extension talks during training camp.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the two sides will have "initial discussions" camp ahead of Vucevic's impending free agency. The veteran center will make $22 million in 2022-23 and is eligible for a four-year extension worth up to $118.2 million.
It's unlikely the Bulls offer Vucevic his full max, given a four-year extension would take him through his age-36 season. A more likely offer could extend Vucevic by two or three years, with a three-year extension coming with a partially guaranteed final season.
Bulls fans were largely agitated with Vucevic's performance last season, as the two-time All-Star saw his scoring (17.6 PPG) and his three-point shooting (31.4 percent) dip to their lowest rates since 2017-18. As DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine soared as All-Stars, Vucevic lagged behind as the third in their Big Three.
The Bulls signed LaVine to a five-year, $215.2 million contract in July and have DeRozan under contract through 2023-24, so they're pot-committed to this core for at least the foreseeable future. The LaVine and DeRozan contracts give the team little maneuverability under the salary cap to replace Vucevic should he bolt in free agency.
Chicago also traded its first-round picks in 2023 and 2025, so the trade asset coffers are a little bare as well. Even if the front office hasn't gotten its full expected value out of Vucevic, there's no other logical option besides extending him.