Bulls Urged to Make Seismic Change to Roster, Starting Five

The Chicago Bulls have been significantly better since adding Patrick Beverley to the mix, posting an 8-5 record and getting back into the playoff hunt as a potential play-in team. Regardless, the club is still multiple rungs below the contenders’ tier of the Eastern Conference standings.

However, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley believes that Chicago has a blueprint for regaining contender status in 2023 (even if the odds are against the team actually getting there).

In addition to the obvious steps — getting Lonzo Ball back or finding his successor and finally bringing former No. 4 Patrick Williams up to speed — the hoops scribe pitched a third phase that could radically change how the team’s starting five functions.

Specifically, letting Nikola Vucevic ride off into the sunset and replacing him with an entirely different kind of center.

“Vucevic is a really good player — just not for this team,” wrote Buckley.

B/R: Bulls Must Move on From C Nikola Vucevic — One Way or Another — This Offseason

As ever, Buckley’s argument was that there’s too much of the wrong kind of crossover with Vucevic and fellow Bulls stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Specifically, all three are players whose offensive output far exceeds their defensive mettle.

“The fit is less than perfect, and that’s putting it lightly. That alone should be all the motivation Chicago needs to not pay Vucevic as an unrestricted free agent this summer,” Buckley opined. “Hopefully, he helps out and facilitates a sign-and-trade so they don’t lose him for nothing, but even if he walks, there might be some addition-by-subtraction potential if Chicago finds a better fit.”

So what, praytell, is that better fit?

“An athletic interior presence who protects the paint, cleans the glass, crushes lobs and doesn’t need a ton of touches could be perfect for this group.”

Moving from a semi-stretching, offensive-minded big man to a legitimate defensive anchor with rim-running tendencies would likely necessitate other big changes. We’re talking everything from the offensive scheme to the personnel running it around the Bulls’ new pivot and whichever of the team’s other stars remain in place.

But when you’re talking about a club that’s currently fighting for a back-end play-in spot, radical change is probably what’s needed.

Bulls Have Talked about Re-Upping With Vooch

Make no mistake, the proper time to have made this kind of swap was probably ahead of February’s trade deadline while Vucevic’s contract and salary slot were still in effect. Now, the team faces the prospect of him watching him leave after the campaign and not getting compensated for it.

If Bulls VP Arturas Karnisovas is to be believed, though, re-upping with the two-time All-Star is still the ultimate goal.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnisovas said immediately after the deadline hit, via NBC Sports Chicago. “And you know we want him to be here.”

Through 72 appearances for the Bulls this season, Vucevic is averaging 17.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest. Meanwhile, he has connected on 51.0% of his shot attempts overall and 34.8% of his tries from deep. The 32-year-old figures to be one of the better free agents available this summer.

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