Max Extension Would Be ‘Ludicrous’ For Bulls Starter, Says Analyst

According to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, the Chicago Bulls‘ management and starting center Nikola Vucevic have had preliminary discussions on a contract extension that would keep the 31-year-old veteran center in the Windy City beyond the upcoming season when his current deal is set to expire.

Vucevic is approaching the final season of a four-year, $100 million deal he originally signed with the Orlando Magic back in 2019. Vucevic will make $22 million this season, so would he be in line for a raise or even a new deal that pays him at the same clip if he signed an extension?

If Forbes’ Jason Patt were making the decision, the answer would be a resounding no. Patt discussed the potential of Vucevic signing an extension in a recent post. While Patt doesn’t believe Vucevic signing an extension would “be the end of the world,” he did balk at any concept of the big man getting a max extension. According to CBA Breakdown, a max-deal for Vucevic, an 11-year NBA veteran, would pay him in the neighborhood $164 million over four years.

Patt said signing Vucevic to a max extension would be “ludicrous,” and it’s difficult to disagree with him. There are probably more Bulls fans in the trade-Vooch camp than in the group who want to see him return. Blowing the concept up to a max extension would likely cause a collective gasp in the Chi that could be heard from the United Center to 95th and Stony Island.

Vucevic’s Extension Could Work Well For His Haters

The Bulls could still part ways with Vucevic if they sign him to an extension. In fact, it may make trading him even easier. Vucevic is something of an attractive trade asset now because he’s a productive big with an expiring deal.

However, he makes $22 million this season, which makes finding the right fit (talent/production/cost) tough. Because his contract is ending this season, the Bulls have a limited time to use him as a trade piece. While Chicago would likely be OK with moving forward with Vucevic as a less-expensive piece of what they hope will become a championship puzzle, there’s also potentially an angle it can take with the veteran big being a cheaper, more sellable trade piece.

What’s a Fair Deal For Vucevic?

When considering Vucevic’s age, his outstanding defensive rebounding, and still-dependable offensive game, though he struggled to shoot the three in 2021-22 (31%), it would make sense for the Bulls to offer him a two-year extension worth $28 million and an average of $14 million per season.

That would slot him just ahead of young bigs like the Detroit Pistons’ Marvin Bagley and Kelly Olynyk, who both make just under $13 million per season for the next 3 and 2 years, respectively. There is a chance the Bulls could lose Vucevic without compensation if they don’t sign him to an extension.

While some of Vooch’s haters may not see that as a negative consequence, Bulls management is more apt to try to secure a backup plan in the event, they can’t find a better option in the middle.

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