NBA Rumor: Nikola Vucevic Free Agency

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Devin Harris: Mavericks tried to go after Nikola Vucevic in free agency

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First of all, congratulations! Has it sunk in that you just agreed to a contract worth $100 million? Nikola Vucevic: Uh, I mean, yes and no. I think it will really sink in once I actually sign it. I don’t know. But it does feel really good. I feel rewarded for what I’ve done – not just last season, but what I’ve done throughout all of my years in Orlando. It means a lot for the team to reward me with this nice contract. It was important for me to be able to continue there and I’m glad we were able to agree on a deal that keeps me in Orlando for four more years. Now, we just need to keep the team rolling.

What were the negotiations with the Magic like? It seems like they went smooth and moved quickly. Nikola Vucevic: As far as I know, they went pretty smooth. I told my agent what I would like and he talked to the Magic. I wasn’t in the meeting or too involved in all of that. There were some other teams showing interest, but I just let my agent handle all of it. My agent and the Magic were able to get a deal done pretty quickly. They came to tell me that everything was good and that we had a deal, and I was really happy about that.
2 years ago via ESPN

The Kings are interested in adding a center this offseason, and there’s space for them to do it even with re-signing Harrison Barnes. It would require them to move on from Willie Cauley-Stein, who wants that anyway, as his agent has asked the Kings to let him go. They’d potentially have the room to make an aggressive offer to Horford, but they have a number of the top centers on their list, sources said. In addition to Horford, the Kings could chase Brook Lopez and Nikola Vucevic. Lopez played for coach Luke Walton with the Lakers.

Last, but not least, is the question of All-Star center Vucevic, who has long been reported, including by The News, as a likely Mavericks free-agent target. Sources, however, now tell The News that while the Mavericks see Vucevic as a viable fit alongside Kristaps Porzingis, Vucevic is seeking a starting salary of $25 million and thus is out of Dallas’ price range. And there is little-to-no chance of Vucevic falling into the Mavericks’ comfort-level price because his current team, Orlando, wants to keep him and because he has other suitors, particularly Sacramento and Boston.

The 28-year-old is satisfied in Orlando and although he’s been reading about teams being interested in him, Vucevic noted he didn’t have any official contact: “Officially, there’s nothing yet and I don’t have any information. The free agency starts on July 1 and until then any contact is forbidden. I’m satisfied in Orlando. This was our best season since I arrived. Everything clicked with the arrival of the new coach. We advanced to the playoffs surpassing all expectations and everything’s fine on that side. I’ve also been reading that many are interested but to be honest, I don’t know which teams want me. When I see all the offers, I’ll think and decide”, he said.

For a guy born in Switzerland, that’s traveled and lived all over the world. Orlando has become a home for the man affectionally known as “Vooch”. But after seven seasons with the Magic Vucevic will become a free agent. A process he hopes he’s experiencing after a playoff run. “I really haven’t thought about it too much yet, especially now with the last stretch of the season being very important to us,” Vucevic says. “When the time comes I’ll see what’s out there, the opportunities that I have and look at them all and decide what’s best for me, my career and also my family. I’ve never been in that position so when the season ends hopefully that will be after the playoffs and I’ll sit down with my family, my agency and go through the whole process and see.”

Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross are two of the most experienced players on the roster, and they’re two of the biggest reasons why the team has played as well as it has. Will the team attempt to keep them both when they become unrestricted free agents this summer? Jeff Weltman: There’s a lot of season left to be played, and this isn’t really the appropriate time for us to be having that discussion. Obviously, they’ve had very good seasons. They’re good players. They’re good people. I think they like it here. They’re an important part of our team.

Jeff Weltman on Vucevic and Ross’ free agencies, continued: They have decisions to make. We have decisions to make. That stuff comes around in July, and we’ll plan and strategize for that at the appropriate time. Right now, we’re more focused on making the playoffs and finishing the season strongly. But, obviously, those guys have been very good for us, and I think that they’re having very good seasons. They both enjoy, I think, the team and our coach and Orlando. But there’s a lot of real estate between all of those points and coming to an agreement. So we’ll see how all that evolves, but that’s really more for a postseason discussion.

“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.”

You have one year remaining on your contract for the 2018-19 season, then you’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Could you see yourself remaining in Orlando for the rest of your career or is that something that you’ll have to consider whenever that time comes? Nikola Vucevic: I could. I’ve been here a while now and obviously we haven’t had much success on the court for different reasons, but I believe we aren’t too far away and we can compete very soon. That’s obviously something that’s really important to me – for us to start winning – because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. All of the stats and individual things are great, but none of those compare to having team success. When you win in this league, that’s the best feeling. So that’s what is most important to me. I do believe we can get there, though. I don’t think about too much. When the time comes to address that, I will. But I am happy in Orlando and I could see myself being here for a long time, so we’ll see what happens.

You’ve been in Orlando long enough to see a lot of your teammates move on from the organization. You’ve certainly seen firsthand that the NBA is a business, watching players like Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Moe Harkless, Kyle O’Quinn, Elfrid Payton and others leave over the years. I know you were really close to some of those guys too. How tough is it to lose so many teammates you’re close to and how difficult is it to deal with the roster constantly changing? Nikola Vucevic: It’s not always easy, especially when it’s a guy who’s been here a couple years and you’ve built a relationship with them – on the court and off the court – but it’s part of the business we’re in. You have to realize that it can happen to anybody at any point. We’ve seen some of the biggest stars in this league get traded – guys that you never expected would be traded. It’s just part of it and you have to accept it. Sometimes, the GM thinks that the team will be better by making a certain move and you have to accept it. In sports, our job as players is just to play and give our best on the court while trusting that the front office will put together the best team possible. It’s hard, especially when you’ve built a bond with somebody and you’re close friends, but it’s part of this business. Then, you just look forward to the games when you’re able to play against them and catch up. It can be fun to go up against the people you’ve played with before.
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