Former USC Trojans center Nikola Vucevic, known for his impressive career in the NBA, has inked a remarkable three-year, $60 million extension deal with his current team, the Chicago Bulls. The 32-year-old shared insights into his decision to remain with the Bulls and discussed his desire for an enhanced role in the team’s offense.
In a recent interview with Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Vucevic addressed his commitment to Chicago and the criticisms he’s faced regarding his contributions to the team. He pointed out, “Out of the three of us [Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan, and Zach LaVine], I’m the one that has sacrificed the most from an individual [standpoint]. That’s why I feel like the people that have been critical of me really don’t understand how basketball works, what it takes for us to function as a group.”
Before finalizing his extension with the Bulls, the 6’10” veteran engaged in extensive discussions with head coach Billy Donovan about his role within the team’s offense. Vucevic emphasized the importance of utilizing his versatile skill set to benefit the team as a whole, rather than focusing solely on scoring. He stated, “It was finding ways to utilize me more. Not so much only for me shooting the ball and scoring, but using my playmaking ability to help the team in different ways.”
As reported by Cowley, Vucevic aspires to mirror the playing styles of renowned All-Star centers such as Bam Adebayo and Nikola Jokic. These players have taken on prominent roles in their respective franchises’ offenses. In the previous NBA season, Vucevic played every regular-season game for the Bulls, showcasing his skills with averages of 17.6 points on .520/.349/.835 shooting splits, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists.
Vucevic’s vision for a more versatile role in the Bulls’ offense aligns with the team’s aspirations for success. His teammate DeMar DeRozan, also a former USC standout, thrives with the ball in his hands. The synergy between Vucevic’s evolving role and DeRozan’s scoring ability will be a critical factor in the Bulls’ quest for victory.
“I think we can see a lot more teams do it and do it at a high level,’’ Vucevic said of NBA teams letting big men handle the ball and facilitate. “I think we also have a team that can function that way, obviously with me and all the guards that we have who can play off the ball. It could make life a lot easier for a lot of our guys.’’
In summary, Nikola Vucevic’s decision to extend his contract with the Chicago Bulls reflects his commitment to the team’s success. He aims to diversify his contributions by emulating All-Star centers and leveraging his playmaking abilities. As the Bulls’ season unfolds, all eyes will be on Vucevic’s evolving role and its impact on the team’s performance.
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