Thursday, June 27, 2024

Bulls Now “Looking To Move” Former All-Star


Arturas Karnisovas has had Chicago’s fanbase in a blender of emotions all summer. After being eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive season, he admitted that this core group had run its course and that change was needed. Earlier this month, it was reported that Zach LaVine’s name has been involved in at least 15 trade offers, and with DeMar DeRozan being an unrestricted free agent, a new era is approaching. The last of the All-Star trio, Nikola Vucevic, signed a three-year, $60 million contract last offseason, which many fans disagreed with, seeing that he’s 33 years old and a defensive liability. Trading away Alex Caruso in exchange for a younger talent with untapped potential meant Chicago was trending toward a new roster makeup. This deal also opened the floodgates of hypothetical directions the franchise could take, and last night’s draft of Matas Buzelis didn’t indicate much, as he mainly was drafted because he wasn’t meant to drop to 11th overall.

Shipping Away Veterans

During the 2023-2024 campaign, the Bulls had six players at 30 years old or older. After trading away Caruso and seeing Andre Drummond, Javonte Green, and DeRozan head to free agency, only Vucevic and Torrey Craig remain. An apparent youth movement is moving through Chicago, likely leading both to be traded elsewhere. Vucevic has the three-point capabilities many teams target from the center position. However, defensively a liability, his offensive playmaking and scoring abilities make for an asset to a contending roster.

Finding His Replacement

One red flag to sending Vucevic away would be the absence of anyone next in line. Last night’s draft saw Chicago take a versatile and lengthy wing, and he will likely find his home in the small forward or power forward position. This report would’ve been much easier to see play out in reality if the Bulls drafted a center last night, which may have been the case, but the two they were rumored ever to be interested in were drafted earlier than 11th overall. Did the Bulls’ draft strategy pivot when Buzelis dropped outside of the top ten, and both centers they were eyeing were gone?

Rumored to have interest in Clint Capela earlier this summer, that move would not support the transition to a younger roster theory. They do not have a selection in tonight’s second round of the 2024 NBA Draft, so barring a trade-in, they will not take home a center from this year’s prospects. James Wiseman is headed to free agency if the Bulls are willing to absorb an experimental project, or Deandre Ayton will almost certainly be disgruntled with Portland’s selection of a center at number seven overall.

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Although there isn’t an evident plan of attack to replace Vucevic, much of the fanbase will be happy moving on from the first failed trade of the Karnisovas era. The former Orlando Magic All-Star center has only brought one playoff appearance and one playoff victory in his tenure with the Bulls. At the same time, the Magic have played and won more postseason outings since trading them a franchise-rebuilding starter pack.

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