Bulls Insider

Karnišovas expresses confidence to re-sign Vucevic

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

NEW YORK --- Nikola Vucevic was confident he wouldn’t be traded, even with his potential unrestricted free agency looming on July 1.

And Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas expressed confidence the Bulls will reach terms on a contract extension with their starting center.

“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnišovas said. “And you know we want him to be here.”

But of course, nothing is official until a contract is signed. And Vucevic may hold the upper hand given the price the Bulls paid to acquire him via trade and the fact that if he reaches unrestricted free agency, his future is completely his choice.

“That feels good,” Vucevic said Thursday night, when told of Karnišovas’ public comments. “Obviously, there are going to be certain things to talk about and figure out. But I’m happy here. I have a good relationship with a lot of my teammates and I’m playing much more comfortably lately. So all those things are important.

“Obviously, how we finish the season and the plan going forward will matter. But I don’t focus on that right now. That’s for whenever that time comes. Just focus on playing now. Now that the deadline has passed, we can put all these rumors to rest and just focus on finishing this season off strong.”

Asked if he’d prefer to reach terms on an extension before July 1, Vucevic was non-committal. The Bulls have exclusive negotiating rights between now and then. If no extension is reached before the new fiscal year begins on July 1, Vucevic would become an unrestricted free agent.


“I think we’ll figure it out as we go. If they want to talk extension, obviously we’re open to it. But if they want to wait until summer, that’s fine too. We’ll see,” Vucevic said. “Obviously, I’d be interested in re-signing here if we can work everything out.”

Vucevic, 32, is having a strong season, taking averages of 18 points and 11.3 rebounds into Thursday’s game while shooting 52.2 percent. He also has played in all 55 games.

“If we play the right way and defend 48 minutes and do the right things at both ends, then we have a chance of being a good team. I don’t think we’re far off,” Vucevic said. “But we have to be more consistent with the good things. We go through too many ups and downs throughout games. Two or three games we play really good. And then one or two, we don’t. Sixty games in, we’re still talking about it. But now that the deadline has passed, this is who we are and we can focus on basketball.”

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