Bulls make big moves in possibly the most significant NBA trade deadline day in franchise history.

The acquisition of Nikola Vucevic now gives Chicago two All-Stars on the roster.
by Sam Smith
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Body

Now that's what we're talking about!

The Bulls are back!

OK, OK, I'm checking my pulse. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Slowly.

But it seems like the Bulls aren't just putting out some hot air with a big time Trade Deadline Day Thursday.

It may prove one of the most significant in franchise history.

The Bulls Thursday acquired two-time Orlando Magic All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first round drafts, this season and the Bulls selection in 2023.

Nikola Vucevic

Chicago now has a pair of All-Stars on the roster with the addition of Nikola Vucevic.

The trade was the principal move in virtually remarking the Bulls roster. The Bulls also traded backup center Daniel Gafford, forward Chandler Hutchison and backup center Luke Kornet. The Bulls in the three-team deal with Washington and Boston received center Daniel Theis from Boston, Troy Brown Jr. from Washington and Javonte Green from Boston. Brown from Oregon is a 6-6 small forward regarded for his defensive play. a reserves for the Wizards and will be for the Bulls. The trade for Vucevic also allows Thad Young to return to the bench and enhance the Bulls second unit.

The transactions alter the face of the Bulls roster since Carter has mostly been a starter in his three Bulls seasons since being the No. 7 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Interestingly, the Magic skipped him in that draft to select Mo Bamba one pick ahead. Hutchison was a late first round pick who has had injury and personal issues while Gafford was a second round selection regarded for his defensive play.

They were primary elements of the Bulls plans in recent seasons to use the draft to rebuild the franchise after the trade of Jimmy Butler. Now new chief executive Arturas Karnisovas has changed course to begin a win now—or at least compete more seriously now—game plan.

The Bulls took advantage of teams basically out of the playoffs in Washington and Orlando to exchange young players who are potential prospects for more established players and positional needs. The Bulls trades were part of a massive trading deadline bonanza with numerous players changing teams, including Aaron Gordon, Norman Powell, Austin Rivers, George Hill, Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, Gary Harris, Evan Fornier

While yielding first round draft picks always is a risk, the trades are a bold and perhaps necessary move to make the Bulls relevant immediately.

Plus it puts the Bulls in better position to extend the contract of star guard Zach LaVine because he finally will be playing with another All-Star player. And a center, which has been a primary need for the Bulls. LaVine can be a free agent after next season.

Now the Bulls can feature two All-Star players, which is widely regarded as the current formula for success and playoff contention in the NBA.

This also could rank as one of the most significant veteran player trades in franchise history along with Chet Walker for Jim Washington in 1969, Bill Cartwright for Charles Oakley in 1989 and Dennis Rodman for Will Perdue in 1995. The Walker trade started the Bulls on the first big run in franchise history in the early 1970s toward their first conference finals while the Cartwright trade was the final piece for the 1990s title run. Rodman was the vital missing power forward for the second threepeat in 1996-98.

Vucevic fills an important need for this Bulls team as a star center not only to compete with the elite big men in the league like Joel Embiid and Nikola Vucevic, but another significant scorer to support and complement LaVine. Aminu is a veteran 6-8 forward defensive specialist playing for his sixth team.

Nikola Vucevic and Wendell Carter Jr.

Nikola Vucevic and Wendell Carter Jr.

Vucevic was having his best season this year, averaging 24.5 points and 11.8 rebounds for the rebuilding Orlando Magic. He also was shooting 41 percent on threes and during the last four years was one of four big men in the NBA to average at least 20 points and 11 rebounds along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns. the seven-foot Vucevic also has averaged almost four assists per game the last three seasons.

Vucevic made his second All-Star appearance this season. He is from Montenegro and attended USC before being drafted No. 16 by the Philadelphia 76ers. He was part of a four-team trade in 2012 involving also Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Andre Iguodala.

Vucevic also would appear be the ideal complement to Lauri Markkanen, another seven footer who now can use his shooting strength to stretch the floor and rely on the more physical Vucecic for rebounding and post play.

With Vucevic and LaVine, two high scoring and excellent shooting current All-Stars, this Bulls team begins to resemble some of the most talented teams in recent franchise history.

Got a question for Sam?

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

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