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The Chicago Bulls and center Nikola Vučević have reportedly made little progress on a potential contract extension.
“I think right now with Vučević, those talks on an extension have not really gained any traction,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday.
Vučević is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s making $22 million in the final year of his four-year, $100 million contract originally signed with the Orlando Magic.
An All-Star in two of his final three years in Orlando, Vučević has struggled to maintain that high level of play with the Bulls. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists over his first 22 appearances this season. The scoring output is his lowest since 2016-17, and his 12.9 shot attempts per game are his lowest since 2013-14.
“I really don’t think about it too much,” Vučević said of his contract status, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I think the front office kind of wants to see how everything goes this season before they make decisions. That’s part of it.
“If I was younger, I might think about it more. But now I just play and see what happens. It also helps that I’ve been doing this for so long that teams know what I do, how good I am, what I bring to the table. In my mind, I don’t think this year is going to change the perception people have of me. You just play and things take care of themselves usually.”
Should the Bulls decide to not re-sign Vučević, it would be an admission of failure from the front office. Chicago gave up Wendell Carter Jr. and two future first-round picks, including a 2023 selection that’s only protected in picks 1-4. With the Bulls sitting at a disappointing 9-13, it’s possible they’ll be giving up a high lottery pick next summer for a player who won’t even be on their roster.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Vučević. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported the Lakers have had internal conversations about potentially trading for Vučević and DeMar DeRozan. That scenario would require a desire from the Bulls front office to rebuild the roster, given Russell Westbrook and future first-round picks is all the Lakers have to offer in trade packages.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but Vučević’s status bears monitoring.