NBA Free Agency doesn’t start until Friday, but that’s not stopping teams from negotiating with their own players on contract extensions. Two teams came to early decisions on potential free agents today. The Chicago Bulls decided to bring back center Nikola Vucevic while the Minnesota Timberwolves declined to pick up their team option on the final year of forward Taurean Prince’s deal.
Here’s an extended write-up on Vucevic. The news on Prince is below. We will update this thread as more deals become known.
Bulls Retain Their Center
The Chicago Bulls are bringing back former All-Star center Nikola Vucevic on a three-year contract extension.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news earlier today via Twitter:
Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic is finalizing a three-year, $60M contract extension, his agents Bill Duffy and Rade Fillipovich tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 28, 2023
Vucevic is coming off of the final year of his four-year, $100 million contract that he signed with the Orlando Magic back in 2019.
The 12-year veteran has played for the Bulls since 2020. He’s produced nearly identical stats over the last two seasons, scoring 17.6 points along with 11 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest.
Vucevic’s play has earned him a reputation as one of the better centers in the league though the Bulls struggled in what was otherwise a down 40-42 season as the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Despite a play-in berth, they failed to reach the playoffs after a 102-91 loss to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, a game in which Vucevic went for 12 points and nine rebounds on 6-9 shooting from the field.
At 32 years old, Vucevic returns to a Bulls team that has a big off-season ahead to solidify a contending roster. According to NBA.com, they forfeited their only pick in this year’s draft ‘due to violating rules governing free agency discussions.’
However, the Bulls won’t be able to pair up Vucevic with point guard Lonzo Ball, who is expected to miss his second straight season with a lingering left knee injury.
Bringing back Vucevic is a critical step in the right direction for the franchise as they look to win more with him alongside fellow stars Zach LaVine and DeMar Derozan — a trio that has not advanced farther than the first round in any of their three years together.
Minnesota Turns Their Back on Prince
The Minnesota Timberwolves declined the final year of forward Taurean Prince’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent in the signing period that begins this Friday.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported the news.
The Timberwolves are declining to guarantee Taurean Prince’s $7.4M contract for the 2023-2024 season, sources tell ESPN. Prince — who’s averaged 10.4 points in his seven years — joins the free agent market.
Prince scored 9.1 points in 22.1 minutes per game for the ‘Wolves last season, shooting 46.7% from the floor and 38.1% from the three-point arc.
Judging by his response, Prince was at least mildly surprised by the news.
Clippers send Eric Gordon into unrestricted free agency
The Los Angeles Clippers are not guaranteeing Eric Gordon’s $21 million deal for 2023-24, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The decision will save the Californian franchise $110 million in luxury tax with Gordon set to turn 35 in December.
The shooting guard was sent to the Clippers from the Houston Rockets at February’s trade deadline. He averaged 11.0 points on 42.3 percent three point shooting and 2.1 assists post trade.
The Clippers aren’t guaranteeing guard Eric Gordon’s $21 million contract and he’ll become a free agent, sources tell ESPN. Gordon has averaged 16 points on 37 percent three-point shooting in his 15-year career.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 29, 2023