Nikola Vucevic searches for a passport holder while he is guarded by Brook Lopez during an April 30 game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Just 20 games away from the NBA trading deadline, you’ll have a hard time finding someone willing to call the Chicago Bulls trade a winning move for Nikola Vucevic.
Before the matchup On Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks, the team has only played 7-13 since March 25th.
And Vucevic’s strong numbers have proven more of a low-calorie diet than a hearty, fulfilling spread.
Since arriving in Chicago, he averaged 22.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and one theft per game.
But his last game, a seven-on-27 shooting performance from the field and the loss of Bulls has some doubts about the team’s decision to acquire the All-Star.
In his latest article for Bleacher Report, The 10 Biggest Disappointments of the 2020-21 NBA Season, Grant Hughes picked 10 of the NBA’s most anticlimactic narratives this season.
There’s no way to say that the deal with Nikola Vucevic has been a success so far. It was a win-now move that didn’t bring enough wins to get the Chicago Bulls out of the edge of the play-in mix.
Hughes suggests that the move by Arturas Karnisovas, Bulls CEO , and the front office could have made a rash decision:
This was Step-Skipping 101, a hasty move by a team that overestimated its current strengths. Nothing in Vucevic’s track record suggested he was anything but a floor raiser – not the kind of fundamental talent to build a high-profile winner around.
He’s not wrong. There’s a reason the Orlando Magic only won two total games in Vucevic’s tenure in their two post-season appearances.
Sure, Chicago could downsize Vucevic’s role and handpick matchups that are less likely to that they are exploiting its limits. But that only makes the trade worse. Why would you give up such a massive draft of equity for a man to be used wisely – one who at its head has only managed to make magic the seventh seed in a weak Eastern Conference?
Chicago did one Gambling, provided the guys who already had it in the house were able to bridge the gap between the big man’s effectiveness and the lack of impact with the floor.
So far, it hasn’t paid off. But Nikola Vucevic cannot be wholly held responsible for this.
He did exactly what was asked of him, and in a situation that did not justify his over-the-top efforts.
What Hughes in His column did not mention is the gross overall health of the Chicago Bulls and the potential side effects.
All-star guard Zach LaVine played two games alongside Vucevic after close of trading before missing the next game with an ankle injury.
When he came back, he didn’t look quite like it. LaVine played the next seven games before entering the league’s health and safety protocol.
Chicago’s original All-Star hasn’t played since April 14th. The Bulls took the lead 4-5 in nine games.
Is it fair to criticize the team’s dice roll at close of trading knowing that the clear intent behind the deal was the playoffs? There’s an argument that LaVine would still be in the playoff picture with healthy and available.
Vucevic wasn’t able to fill the shoes of a number one option, but when was he ever in Orlando?
Perhaps this track was intended only as a reminder of his mistakes as a player and not as a final judgment on his future in Chicago.
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