Bulls trade Nikola Vucevic to Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are regretting the four-year, $78 million contract Jakob Poeltl signed in the offseason. The Bulls re-upped Nikola Vucevic for three years and $60 million. Also a move the front office is probably not thrilled with in hindsight. What better way to "solve" — or at least "address" — the problem than by swapping regrets with another franchise.
Chicago gets Poeltl, a superior defensive anchor who happens to be five years younger than Vucevic. Poeltl has a better chance of rebuilding trade value over the next few seasons. He's averaging 10.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks on 69.1 percent shooting in 26.5 minutes for Toronto. While not flashy, Poeltl is a rock-solid rim protector and an efficient play-finisher on offense. He knows how to throw his weight around and the anticipation skills are elite.
Why are the Raptors willingly taking the older center? Well, first, because Vucevic's contract comes off the books a year earlier than Poeltl's does. That helps in the long-term, macro sense. In the short term, Vooch is simply better — and a much stronger fit. He can space the floor, run DHOs with Immanuel Quickley, and add a new dimension to Darko Rajakovic's offense. Vooch is averaging 17.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on .475/.269/.868 splits in 33.9 minutes. It's easy to ignore the Bulls, but the 33-year-old can still produce at a high clip. His skill set should scale down nicely as he continues to age, too.
The Bulls aren't going to get draft picks for Vucevic, so a straight-up swap that involves a potentially fruitful reclamation project is the best way forward. Chicago takes advantage of the Raptors' upcoming rebuild and desire for cap flexibility, and vice versa. This has strong win-win potential for both sides, as depressing as the details may look at first glance.