Bulls Rumors: Nikola Vucevic Expects to Stay With Chicago Amid Rudy Gobert Trade Buzz

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Bulls Rumors: Nikola Vucevic Expects to Stay With Chicago Amid Rudy Gobert Trade Buzz

Set Number: X163569

Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic
reportedly expects to remain with the team despite a series of rumors
linking Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert with a potential move to the Windy
City.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago
provided an update on the Gobert speculation Friday on the Bulls Talk
Podcast
(via Elias Schuster of Bleacher Nation):

“I, personally, have not put a lot of
stock into these rumors. … There is a lot of noise out there. It’s
certainly fair to speculate what the Jazz might do. Before, I
personally made a couple of calls on the topic, and I was told that
there’s not much going on right now. Things can obviously change in
this league—always change in this league. I can also tell you,
from my understanding, Nikola Vucevic is under the impression he’s
going to be here.”

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported
Monday the Bulls are a “team with interest” if the Jazz decide
move on from Gobert following the departure of head coach Quin
Snyder.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer added further details Tuesday, noting league sources indicated a
baseline package of Vucevic and Patrick Williams for Gobert was a
possibility, though it’s unclear whether if Chicago is willing to
part with Williams.

The Bulls enjoyed a turnaround season
in 2021-22, compiling a 46-36 record to snap a four-year playoff
drought. They struggled defensively, however, ranking tied for
23rd in defensive efficiency during the regular season.

So securing an upgrade in the post from
Vucevic to Gobert, a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, is
an attractive option on paper.

Several variables are in play, though.
Most notably, the Jazz have yet to signal they’re ready to break up
their core duo of Gobert and Donovan Mitchell despite a first-round
playoff exit that continued a recent trend of strong regular-season
results followed by a postseason dud.

Utah general manager Justin Zanik was
noncommittal about the team’s offseason plans after Snyder stepped
down on Sunday.

“Donovan and Rudy, along with some of
our other players, are hugely important to the success of this
organization,” Zanik told reporters.

Meanwhile, the Bulls would have to
decide whether the improvement from Vucevic (No. 117 in
FiveThirtyEight’s NBA WAR ranking) to Gobert (No. 8) is enough to
warrant giving up on Williams, the fourth overall pick in the 2020
draft.

Williams has yet to emerge as the type
of high-end contributor a team expects from a top-five selection,
averaging 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 88 games, but he was limited
to just 17 appearances in 2021-22 because of a wrist injury.

The 20-year-old Florida State product
showed some promise in the limited action this season, shooting
52.9 percent from the field, including 51.7 percent on threes.

Trading Williams at this stage of his
career would come with risk, but Chicago will face plenty of
competition on the trade market if Gobert becomes available, so it’s
going to take valuable assets to complete a deal one way or another.

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