Nikola Vucevic

Bulls, Nikola Vučević agree to contract extension

Management called re-signing the durable center an offseason priority

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

For months, Chicago Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas has publicly stated his desire and confidence in his ability to re-sign center Nikola Vučević.

With free agency beginning Friday, he put his money where his mouth is.

The Bulls confirmed an extension with Vučević, which league sources said is on track to be for three years and roughly $60 million.

“During his time in Chicago, Nikola has proven that he is a special player both on and off the court,” Karnišovas said in a statement released by the team. “He has produced at an elite level since we acquired him and will remain an integral part of our foundation moving forward. Nikola’s willingness to do whatever is asked of him to help us win, while also being an established veteran leader for our group, makes him a valuable component of the culture of our organization. He is a consummate professional and tremendous teammate, which plays a big role in making us an attractive destination for other players. We are excited to have him continue to be part of our journey.”

Throughout last season, Vučević said re-signing will the Bulls would be his first priority.

“I’m excited to continue my journey as a Chicago Bull,” Vučević said in the same statement. “Since I have arrived in Chicago, everyone in the organization has been incredibly welcoming to my family and me. I am motivated more than ever to achieve our mutual goals as a team. I want to thank the Reinsdorf family and Artūras for continuing to believe in me. I also want to thank Bulls fans for the constant support, you guys are the best part about playing in Chicago. We will work harder than ever to bring success to the city of Chicago.”

Vučević, who turns 33 during 2023-24 training camp, averaged 17.6 points and 11 rebounds last season, the first time he played all 82 games during his 12-year career. He finished third in the NBA in double-doubles and also shot 52 percent.

Vučević has averaged 18.2 points and 11.1 rebounds since his surprising March 2021 acquisition from the Orlando Magic, in which the Bulls traded Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks. The second of which conveyed just last week, after which Karnišovas was asked to reflect upon the trade.

“I think that transaction when we brought Vooch here showed everyone that we’re trying to win,” Karnišovas said. “I think once we brought Vooch, we brought in DeMar (DeRozan), we brought Alex Caruso, we brought ‘Zo (Lonzo Ball). That started trying to improve our team and trying to be competitive. I thought that deal worked out pretty well for us.”

The Bulls have made the playoffs once since the Bulls acquired Vučević, winning one playoff game. Though he, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine all have enjoyed individual success statistically, it hasn't translated to significant team success yet.

The Bulls finished 40-42 and failed to exit the play-in tournament in 2022-23 despite that trio logging more minutes than any other three-man unit in the NBA.

Vučević has been open about needing to adjust to his role with the Bulls after being the featured, go-to scorer as he made two All-Star appearances with the Magic. The Bulls often have struggled to recognize when he has mismatches, which coach Billy Donovan has publicly acknowledged.

Making the core more impactful offensively as a collective unit is a goal for the Bulls entering next season. The hope is it will translate to more victories. And now, Vučević has long-term security as he tries to play his part to make it happen.

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