Bulls' Nikola Vucevic focused on basketball, not trade deadline

Vucevic focused on basketball, not trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

With 12 double-doubles in his last 14 games, Nikola Vucevic is enjoying an extremely productive stretch on the court for the Chicago Bulls.

Off it, Vucevic's future is the current subject of speculation because he could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Without a contract extension, could he be a target to be moved by the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline?

Vucevic isn't sweating his future.

"I don't pay attention to that. I've been in the league for a long time now. I've been involved in two trades. It's part of it," the Bulls' center said after Tuesday's morning shootaround at the United Center. "Obviously, it's not easy when you get the call telling you you're traded. Obviously, everything changes for you. But there's really nothing you can do about it. If you think about it, you're just going to make it harder on yourself. Try to brush it aside as much as you can and focus on playing. That will help you.

"Every year is the same, all these rumors and very few of them actually happen. For me personally, I've been around for a long time. If it happens, it happens. It not, it is what it is."

The Bulls acquired Vucevic in a blockbuster trade with the Orlando Magic in March 2021. With Wendell Carter Jr. heading to Orlando---and Lauri Markkanen later to follow---it signaled the beginning of the end of the youth movement and rebuilding effort that executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas inherited.

That's why several team executives who spoke anonymously to NBC Sports Chicago would be surprised to see Vucevic moved less than two years later. But given the fact that no serious contract extension talks took place between Vucevic's camp and Bulls management last offseason, it's clear that the Bulls are keeping their options open.

Vucevic said the Bulls are a veteran-filled team that is focused on righting their season rather than worrying about the deadline.

"I don't think guys think about it too much. It's out of your control. It's nothing you can really do about it. The front office makes those decisions if they want to make any moves or not. So as a player, you try to shut that off and focus on what you can control, which is the way you're playing," he said. "There are a million rumors out there every day for different players and different teams. If you get caught up into it or reading into it, obviously it's going to affect you a little bit. But if you just shut it off and focus on what you can control, you can put it aside. It's just part of the business we're in. That's it."

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