Cleveland should not accept a trade for Bulls center Nikola Vucevic
In mid-November, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Chicago Bulls have begun probing the trade market for the two-time All-Star Zach Lavine's next home. With a yearly salary over $40 million, Lavine is almost certainly out of Cleveland's sights. Once the Bulls do move on from Lavine, however, the vast majority of their roster will likely be up for grabs.
For the Cavaliers, they may explore a trade that lands another center with 3-point range, keeping Mobley at the four instead in order to avoid a dramatic shift in the team's construction mid-season. With a career 34.5 percent 3-point shot, Bulls center Nikola Vucevic could be an eye catching option at first glance.
Over his 12 seasons in the NBA, Vucevic has averaged 17 points and 10.5 rebounds, roughly five points and two rebounds better than Allen's career averages. Vucevic's added range is another great benefit, though he has only shot 26.1 percent from deep this year. Where Vucevic's fit falls apart for the Cavs is his defense and age.
At 33-years-old, Vucevic is on the first year of a 3-year, $60 million contract with a guaranteed salary of $21.5 million in his age 35 season. Vucevic is still capable of producing for a winning team, but his best days are undeniably behind him as an NBA player. If the Cavs search for a new frontcourt partner next to Mobley, taking a long contract for a declining talent could decimate their future hopes of contention.
Defensively, Vucevic deserves more credit than he receives, but his defensive prowess dissipates when he is switched onto a smaller, faster opponent. In a league filled with offensive gameplans that target the best mismatch for any given player, the Cavaliers cannot afford to worry about hiding Vucevic on a pick-and-roll action. They already have to compensate for an undersized backcourt that is not known for their defense.
Against other post players, Vucevic is more than capable of handling himself and forcing bad shots. But, adding an inflexible defender like Vucevic only compounds Cleveland's preexisting problems without enough offensive improvements to offset the deficiency.
Finally, the Cavaliers cannot take a chance on an inconsistent forward notorious for playoff disappearance acts.