How Nikola Vucevic Contract Impacts Bulls' Salary Cap, Roster After Trade

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) sets up a play during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat on Sunday, March 14, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Chicago Bulls have reshaped their roster over the next few years with Thursday's addition of Nikola Vucevic in a trade with the Orlando Magic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the deal, which features Chicago giving up Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks in exchange for Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu.

The move does clear Porter's $28.5 million salary for this season, although there are new liabilities going forward. Bobby Marks of ESPN broke down the latest money changes.

Bobby Marks @BobbyMarks42

To Chicago 🏀N. Vucevic- $26M, $24M and $22M (no options) 🏀A. Aminu- $9.7M and $10.2M (Player) To Orlando 🏀O. Porter- $28.5M 🏀 W. Carter Jr.- $5.4M and $6.9M (extension eligible) 2 first rd. picks $4.2M trade exception created

Here is how the 2020-21 salary cap currently stands for Chicago, via Spotrac.


Player (Average Salary, Expiration Year)

Nikola Vucevic ($25 million, 2023)

Zach LaVine ($19.5 million, 2022)

Thaddeus Young ($14.5 million, 2022)

Tomas Satoransky ($10 million, 2022)

Al-Farouq Aminu ($9.7 million, 2022)

Cristiano Felicio ($8 million, 2021)

Patrick Williams ($7.2 million, 2024)

Coby White ($5.6 million, 2023)

Lauri Markkanen ($5.1 million, 2021)

Garrett Temple ($4.8 million, 2021)

Denzel Valentine ($4.6 million, 2021)

Ryan Arcidiacono ($3 million, 2022)

Luke Kornet ($2.3 million, 2021)

Chandler Hutchison ($1.7 million, 2022)

Daniel Gafford ($1.5 million, 2023)   

While it's a surprise the Bulls would trade Carter just two seasons into his career, his departure could signal a roster overhaul under new executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. The former Denver Nuggets general manager has no attachment to any player on this roster and will likely spend the offseason beginning to transform its young core.

Carter has flashed some ability but has a skill set that's mostly a relic of another era.

After a 19-24 start to the year, the team is looking to move in a new direction. It could also mean Lauri Markkanen could soon leave as he heads into restricted free agency.

There is still reason to be excited about the roster, pairing one of the most productive big men in the NBA in recent years in Vucevic with an emerging star in Zach LaVine. Both players made the All-Star Game this season and could form an inside-out tandem that can compete with the top teams in the East.

Both players are signed through at least next season, and Coby White and Patrick Williams are still developing in what could be an exciting roster for 2021-22.

Taking on Aminu's contract (with a $10.2 million player option in 2021-22) is a bit of a hindrance considering the 6'8" forward averages 5.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game this season. However, the 30-year-old can bring a veteran presence to the young roster if he remains with the organization.

Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky also both have non-guaranteed contracts next year, which could give Chicago plenty of options heading into the offseason.