NBA rumors: Celtics, Hornets interested in Nikola Vucevic

More on Nikola Vucevic Trade

Executives around the league say Orlando has shown no interest in moving Vucevic. He’s a favorite of Steve Clifford’s coaching staff and a centerpiece of their offense; though the 30-year-old may not be part of their long-term future, he’s an important piece to facilitate development of their young players. Same goes for Harrison Barnes; he’s obviously not untouchable, but the Kings are trying to make the playoffs despite a seven-game losing streak.
Nikola Vucevic: For now, I'm happy here. And I think that this year if we're full strength we would definitely be a playoff team and playing for something, and we would have a chance to fight in the playoffs and do something significant now.
Nikola Vucevic: Honestly, I've been in like, not the last two seasons, but before that I've been in like so many trade rumors. I think one year I was in almost every rumor every day, like every day there's something else or it would be like the same team but just you know different things. And it doesn't really affect me because for example, something like a trade I don't have any control over it. So I don't like to think about it because I can't do anything about it.
Would Nikola Vucevic -- should the Orlando Magic even make him available, let alone for what Toronto can realistically offer -- fit the bill? (The Magic are so far projecting patience and optimism about bringing back their healthy core next season, league sources say. The exception -- and this is purely my speculation -- might concern Evan Fournier, given his expiring contract.)
“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Vucevic told The Athletic on Wednesday night. “Those things are out of my control. The things I can control (are) my play, preparation for each game, practice, helping the team win. That’s really what I’m focused on. I’m not just saying that to say that. That’s really the way it is because what good is it going to do me to think about the deadline and what’s going to happen?”
“There’s been rumors about me being traded for years now,” Vucevic says. “So when it comes to all those rumors, I really don’t pay attention to them because so far they’ve been wrong. So maybe there were talks or not. I don’t know. I don’t really get into that. When it comes to those things, the trade part, that’s something I can’t control. My job is to be the best player I can for this team, be the best teammate that I can, help the team win. Those (other) things, I can’t control. So we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Obviously, I am a free agent (at the end of the season). “As far as I’m concerned, I plan on being here until the end of the year and then we’ll see what happens in free agency. If we can agree on everything, I would like to stay. But we’ll see.”
Josh Robbins: @Tyler C. There have been no indications that a trade is forthcoming. I don't expect the front office to make a desperation move to challenge for a No. 8 seed, not when the three key members of the Magic's long-term nucleus — Mohamed Bamba, Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac — are under long-term team control with their contracts and are very far away from reaching their primes. The team's key potential trade chip — note the use of the word "potential" instead of "likely" — is center Nikola Vucevic.
The prevailing wisdom has been that the arrival of No. 6 pick Mo Bamba has meant that Vucevic’s days in Orlando are numbered. But multiple league sources told SN that is not the case. "There is nothing serious going on there with them moving Vuc," one source said.
Bamba, though still raw, ultimately could make Vucevic expendable. “We have no designs on trading anyone right now,” Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said when asked about a potential trade involving Vucevic. “That’s something that we’ll worry about later. Vooch is a high-quality player and an even higher-quality person. He’s very valuable to our team today, and he’s very valuable to what we want to be about going forward. So I wouldn’t even entertain those thoughts yet. We just hope to have a good season. We want to make progress, obviously, in the ‘W’ column but also [in] the way that we work, developing our players and starting to build something special here.”
Vucevic, 27, is expected to be available on the trade market since he is taking away playing time from Bamba and doesn’t fit president Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond’s desire for length and versatility. Gordon has proven to be most effective as a four. Isaac remains an unknown after appearing in only 27 games as a rookie. Can Isaac shoot the ball and handle it well enough to be a three? It’s seemingly the only way Bamba, Gordon and Isaac could all share the floor.
Mike Fisher: As NBA center shuffle begins, #Mavs are unlikely to pursue #Magic C Vucevic. A bigger big fish to fry?
``When the season ends the way ours is going to end, a lot of these questions come up,’’ said Vucevic, the Magic’s longest-tenured player at six seasons. ``It’s something that’s out of our control and you can’t do anything about it. I try not to think about it, but – what’s our record now … 24-57 – if we were 57-24 we wouldn’t be having this conversation. We’d be talking about whether we could add another great player to come and join us. ``So, it comes with the territory,’’ Vucevic continued. ``When a team struggles, the front office is going to look at what’s been working and what hasn’t or what can be done for the team to be improved. There are a lot of possibilities, but I try not to think about it too much. It’s not my job to focus on personnel.’’
Sources said the Magic have mixed feeling about moving veteran center Nikola Vucevic and point guard Elfrid Payton, who have been rumored to be on the trading blocks for a while. “They (the Magic) want to do something, for sure,’’ an NBA exec said. “All of those guys except the rookie (Isaac) aren’t Hammond-Weltman guys, so they have no attachment to them.
With the playoffs all but impossible, the widely held assumption throughout the NBA is that Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman and John Hammond will try to trade some of the established players on the roster they inherited — perhaps 25-year-old swingman Evan Fournier and 27-year-old center Nikola Vucevic — to aid in a rebuild. In an interview, Hammond would not categorize the Magic as sellers. But he also acknowledged that if the team does make a move, it would not be for a quick fix and would likely be “to improve ourselves for the future.” So if the Magic trade anyone, the Magic likely would be interested in acquiring young players or draft picks or a combination of both.
Vucevic made something clear Thursday: He has no desire to be traded. “I love it here,” he answered when he was asked whether he’d like to remain with the team. “I’m just disappointed that I haven’t been able to bring more wins and more joy to this franchise, to these fans. That’s the biggest disappointment for me. But other than that, everything’s been great for me here as far as how the organization treated me, how the fans treated me, my role on the team, how I’ve been able to perform. All that’s been great.”
Nikola Vucevic, who presently has a broken hand, makes $12.25 mil this year (and is signed for another year commitment as well, for $12.75 mil). And without giving us specific names (leaving D-Lord and myself to educated-guess to fill in some blanks) a source tells DallasBasketball.com that yes, the Mavs and Magic have touched base on deadline ideas.
But victories have been rare for Orlando this season. Like all of his teammates, Evan Fournier has been disappointed by the Magic’s performance this season, and a recent Basketball Insiders article noted that “there is a sense” — ostensibly among other teams — that Fournier and teammate Nikola Vucevic “would welcome the chance to get to a winning situation.” Asked to respond to that characterization, Fournier insisted he has not asked for a trade. “Obviously, as a player you want to win,” he told the Sentinel. “But I will never ask [for] a trade or anything. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m a fighter and I’m definitely not a quitter. I don’t know what they plan to do, but I’m a Magic. I feel like I belong here, and for as long as I’m going to be here, I’m going to fight for this jersey and this city, man. It’s that simple.”
Steve Kyler: With the Magic clearly going nowhere fast, Vučević is the name mentioned most in NBA circles as having value. The Magic’s message continues to be the same in trade talks. They will listen to offers and ideas but are not actively seeking change for change sake, accepting that this season was more about the newly installed front office understanding who and what they really had. League sources have maintained for some time that to get Orlando off the dime was going to take a significant player hitting the market—something that has not happened yet.
Look for Hammond to shuffle the deck now that he’s the new Magic GM. NBA officials said Hammond has been working the phones, trying to move point guard Elfrid Payton and veteran centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo. If Hammond is successful in moving Payton, it will likely impact the Magic’s draft plans. The consensus among NBA officials is the Magic will draft Florida State forward Jonathan Isaac with the sixth overall selection. However, if Payton is moved, the Magic may change plans at select North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith.
Bleacher Report: Orlando Magic reportedly turned down a trade for DeMarcus Cousins earlier this season @verizon. Ric Bucher: "Multiple league sources said the Magic turned down the chance to deal Nikola Vucevic and either Evan Fournier or draft picks to the Kings".
Bucher: "Hennigan apparently was concerned about both his ability to re-sign Cousins this summer and building the franchise around yet another high maintenence big man.
Last week, while the Magic were in Boston, there were reports of trade interest involving Magic big man Nikola Vucevic. Sources close to the situation from both sides indicated that there were some conversations between the two teams, but nothing ever materialized, and the talks were more exploratory in nature, dismissing the idea that anything involving Vucevic heading to the Celtics was actively under consideration. Sources close to the situation characterized the Magic stance as very exploratory and one of a dozen scenarios the Magic had discussed.
And while the Magic want to save face on a deal for Ibaka, sources said the team has been aggressive in testing the trade market, apparently acknowledging that this sometimes-tantalizing team still needs some major alterations. Center Nikola Vucevic is also a potential trade target, and there has been talk that point guard Elfrid Payton —one player Vogel’s predecessor Scott Skiles wanted to trade before he resigned his post — could be had, too.
Vucevic, by contrast, is a proven scorer and rebounder whose comparatively modest $11.8 million salary will presumably offset some of the defensive concerns in circulation. But sources say Boston's talks with Orlando to date on the Vucevic front haven't progressed past the exploratory stage.
Orlando, according to league sources, remains focused on acquiring a proven scorer on the wing before the Feb. 23 trade deadline if the ever-elusive right deal presents itself. ‎The corresponding expectation in league circles is that the Magic will try to move a big man to make that happen, with Nikola Vucevic continuing to rank as the most likely of Orlando's bigs to depart because Serge Ibaka is headed for free agency in July (which complicates trading him) and with Bismack Biyombo only in the first year of a four-year, $68 million deal bound to put some teams off.
hey Steve. Any weight to this Celtics interest in Vucevic? Are the Magic open to moving him? Steve Kyler: Yes. They have talked. Was told nothing close, but its one of the many things Magic have tried to engage on.
CSNNE.com has learned that the Celtics have talked with the Orlando Magic about a potential deal involving the 26-year-old center Nikola Vucevic. While no deal is imminent, the addition of Vucevic would be a significant boost to the Celtics roster on multiple fronts.
Most rival executives expect the Magic to rank among the league's most active teams between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline; Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja and Elfrid Payton have all been rumored to be in play.
The Magic don't want to trade Vucevic, but it's hard to see Orlando finding enough minutes for their giant pile of big men. Early attempts to play Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo together have gone as you might expect. The Pelicans have always been curious about pairing Anthony Davis with a low-post threat. The Blazers have a ton of center types, but it's unclear if any of them -- including Mason Plumlee, up for what could be a pricey extension -- represent the long-term answer at the position. Portland GM Neil Olshey has chased back-to-the-basket types before.
The potential playmaking void is one reason the Magic are in no rush to trade Vucevic despite the logjam, league sources say. They might need his post game, and especially his passing. Last season, Vucevic quietly morphed into one of the league's best passing centers. He assisted on 16 percent of Orlando's hoops while on the floor, a tidy number for a big man; only five centers racked up more potential assists, per SportVU tracking data.
Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja, Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton and Nik Vucevic aren’t going anywhere. The Orlando Magic will not trade any member of their young nucleus before this season’s NBA trade deadline expires on Thursday afternoon, general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel tonight.
Brian Schmitz: League source tells Orlando Sentinel that Magic are not part of proposed 3-way trade that includes Nik Vucevic, contrary to ESPN's report.
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