Nikola Vucevic RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:240 lbs. / 108.9 kg.
Height: 7-0 / 2.13
Weight:240 lbs. / 108.9 kg.
Sources say that the Lakers, Kings and Orlando Magic have had exploratory dialogue on a three-way Cousins trade that would land the 24-year-old in Los Angeles. All three teams hold top-six picks in Thursday’s NBA draft, and Orlando has a young top-flight center of its own in Nikola Vucevic, who could theoretically fill the Cousins void.
What are your thoughts on the hiring of Scott Skiles as head coach? Nikola Vucevic: I don’t know him. He’s coached very good teams in the past and very good players for what I understand. He played for the Magic and he knows the game, I’m sure. I don’t know much about him, but I’m looking forward to meeting him and working with him. I think he’ll be good for us and can help us take the next step. He has a reputation as a very demanding coach, which is kind of the stereotype of the coaches from the former Yugoslavia. So I guess it’s going to be pretty familiar to you. NV: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve read reports about that and, well, I think that’s good with a young team. I guess he’ll want us to prove ourselves every day, to be at our best every day and become a better team. I’ve dealt with many coaches here and in college and everywhere and you can learn a lot from every coach.
How’s your relationship with the Montenegrin Basketball Federation right now? Are you in good terms? Nikola Vucevic: Yeah, we’re in good terms. I’ve never had an issue with the federation. It was a thing with the coach. I decided not to play with the National Team as long as he was the coach, but everything is good with the federation.
Do you think Nikola Mirotic, Nikola Pekovic and yourself will ever play together for Montenegro? NV: I hope so, I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t answer that question for everybody… Nikola Pekovic has played for our team before, so I’m sure he wants to play although he had some issues with injuries. With Mirotic, the thing that happens is he played for Spain in the junior teams… So we will see. But I hope we can put things together and be a very good team.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers called you the best player nobody in the NBA knows. How do you feel about that description? NV: It’s great to hear that from one of the great coaches in the NBA. At the same time, the things that people say about me… I’ve never worried about it. I’m not concerned about becoming famous and everybody knowing me. I just have to take my time and get better and better and whatever happens is going to be a byproduct of that. I don’t worry about people knowing me.
Do you feel like you’re a franchise player for the Orlando Magic? Nikola Vucevic: I don’t like to talk about myself like that. I just want to be the best player I can be and help my team win.
Nikola Vucevic: Proud to be a Juve fan! Great effort and game! Congrats to Barca, they’re a heck of a team! #UCLfinal #ForzaJuve
As the series renders Valanciunas’s skill set less than integral, though, it is difficult not to project forward a bit. The Raptors can offer Valanciunas a contract extension any time before Oct. 31. The obvious reference point would be the four-year, US$53-million contract the Magic gave Nikola Vucevic in the off-season. Vucevic is a worse rim protector than Valanciunas is, but they are similarly limited defensively.
Mirotic, a 6-foot-10 forward, is the reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month. In March, he averaged 20.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. “I know it is tough as a rookie when you come here,” Vucevic says. “It’s not always easy. He was on a good team with a lot of good players, so his playing time wasn’t going to be consistent. I just told him to be patient. “They had some injuries and he got a lot of playing time and he took advantage of it and he’s been playing great for a month or so. I’m really happy for him. He’s a guy that really works hard, that’s come a long way. So I’m very happy he’s doing very well.”
“Defensively, he has gotten much better,” says the Magic’s interim coach, James Borrego. “He is challenging more shots. He’s a little more physical inside than what we’ve seen in the past. His challenge is to do that more consistently throughout a game. Offensively, we’re seeing a much more confident player. “One of the biggest strides that we saw in that Milwaukee game is when he’s double-teamed or when a crowd is around him, he’s kicking it, making the right play, and he produced a lot of those open 3s for us in Milwaukee by just making the right play.”
The entire NBA has had a hard time slowing down Nikola Vucevic this season. Against the undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves who were missing their three best big men, he was unstoppable. Vucevic scored a career-high 37 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to power the Orlando Magic to a 97-84 victory over the Timberwolves on Friday night. “I wanted to be aggressive,” Vucevic said. “We had a size advantage in the paint and I wanted to take advantage of it. We needed this win after a rough stretch.”
Vucevic is inspired by the loyalty displayed by Italian soccer superstar Francesco Totti. Totti, 38, has played his entire career for Roma. “Totti could have gone to bigger teams, made more money, do whatever he wanted. He didn’t,” he said. “He stayed with that team. He’s pretty much a god to that team.”
A young center with All-Star potential, Nik Vucevic knows enough Magic history to realize the franchise’s two best big men left town and broke hearts. Vucevic, 24, is determined not to follow the footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard out of Orlando. “Yeah, I’m here for the long haul. I hope to stay here my whole career,” he told me. “I love it here. I really love the city. I’ve improved here a lot as a player. I’d love to stay for a long, long time and make something special happen. “If it takes years, it takes years … I ain’t going anywhere.”
Magic center Nikola Vucevic had hoped to make the Eastern Conference team as an injury replacement, but those hopes were scuttled when Commissioner Adam Silver selected Kyle Korver to replace Dwyane Wade. Vucevic now is scrambling to find something to do over the break. “I honestly didn’t plan anything because I was hoping to maybe make the All-Star [team], so I didn’t want to jinx it,” he said. “I was just kind of waiting, so I have to make some plans right now, I guess. The good thing is we live in Florida, so I can drive anywhere to the beach and just relax for two or three days and come back here.”
Your preferred nickname: Vucci Mane, Vooch, or something else? Vucci Mane — I do not like that at all. Fans like it, and around Orlando, they always ask me about it. For some reason, I’m sorry, I don’t like it. It comes from Gucci Mane. I don’t know. I just don’t like it. And when the crowd here says “Vooch,” they extend the “oooo” — it sounds really nice, especially when they announce the starting five. That feels pretty good. So I guess it’s Vooch.
What’s the best Orlando theme park? I’ve been to all of them. I love Gatorland. I assume alligators are involved? Yeah, I guess it’s not really a theme park. They don’t have rides. It’s like a zoo with only gators. But all of them are fun. Disney World is obviously fun. I really like Disney’s Animal Kingdom. And all the studios are really cool. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, so they have a lot of stuff from that.
You have a good left hand. Are you one of those secret lefties, or did you just work at it? It’s a little bit of both. I was always using my left hand for some things, and my dad is a lefty. I’m righty when it comes to shooting, but I do a lot of stuff with my left. But I did really work at it. It’s very tough for defenders. What kind of stuff do you do lefty? Do you write lefty? I write right-handed. I play soccer with my left leg. When I hold stuff — like a bag or a plate or something — it’s better if I have it in my left hand.
Should you make the All-Star team? [Agonizingly long pause.] I don’t like talking about myself in these situations. I’ve played well this whole year. I’ve been consistent. I’ve made huge improvements since last year. I wish my play helped the team get some more wins, and hopefully that will come with time. The most important thing is to be consistent. There are so many games, it’s hard to play at a high level consistently.
Nikola Vucevic dunked so hard on Paul Gasol, it looked like the Bulls center exploded. Gasol lost his balance coming down, or was shook from the experience, and collapsed backward. On your 3rd or 4th viewing, please take a look at the Orlando bench. Is that rookie Aaron Gordon holding everyone back? I’d love to be the designated holder-back guy on an NBA bench one night.
“Vucevic has been a guy that you hear from multiple coaches around the league about how advanced he is,” Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added. “He may very well be an All-Star center in the East at some point soon.”
“Vucevic is an All-Star and a terrific player,” Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s probably the best player in the league that nobody knows. I don’t think you hear anybody talking about him, but when you look at his raw numbers they are superstar and All-Star worthy, but nobody knows it.’’