NBA Rumor: Nikola Vucevic Trade

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The Magic have been listening to offers for Gordon and Fournier for some time, but remain committed to seeing out next season with Vucevic at the helm with the recently extended Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz returning from season-ending injury. Sources say a Jrue Holiday-level trade package could convince them to part ways with Vucevic, but he is considered unavailable by rival executives and appears very likely to stay that way.

Vucevic’s market does not seem nearly as vast. Boston, Charlotte and San Antonio have all been rumored among league executives as potential destinations, but the center’s career season, and second All-Star selection, appears to have clouded these waters. “They’d have to get a motherload for him,” another league source with knowledge of the situation said. Orlando would likely require a starting player and multiple first-round picks as a baseline for any Vucevic haul, sources said.

Nikola Vucevic: 'I'm happy where I am'

Before he left for the All-Star game, I bluntly asked Vucevic if he is still happy in Orlando or does he wish he were playing for the Lakers, the Nets or some other league powerhouse. “I’m happy where I am,” Vucevic answered. “When I re-signed with the Magic, I knew it was going to be a process and I knew we weren’t going to turn into a championship team right away… It’s unfortunate we’ve had all of these injuries. I think we are headed in the right direction, but we have lost two very important players — Markelle (Fultz) and J.I. (Jonathan Isaac) — for the season. If we were healthier, our goals would be much different and we could achieve much more. But that’s just part of the journey. Unexpected things are going to happen.”

Rajcic, who was the best man in Vucevic’s wedding, and Vulevic were adamant that they had to be in Atlanta, whatever it took, to make the most of what might prove to be the high point of Vucevic’s trying season. Vucevic, at 30, is producing career-best personal numbers so robust that he earned an All-Star spot despite injury-ravaged Orlando falling to 14th in the Eastern Conference at 13-23. A 6-foot-11 Montenegrin center, he is averaging 24.6 points and 11.6 rebounds while shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range, which explains why the Boston Celtics — who openly covet a big man with shooting range — are mentioned often among the multiple playoff teams interested in acquiring Vucevic before the March 25 trade deadline.

The Heat, Spurs, Celtics, and Hornets have all expressed significant interest in acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, league sources say. Vucevic, 30, is averaging 24.6 points and 3.7 assists while hitting 41.2 percent of his 3s and grabbing 11.6 rebounds per game. Front office executives around the league are skeptical that the Magic will end up pulling the trigger on a deal, though, given that Vucevic has two more seasons left on his contract; if they do, the price would be high.

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: 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.

“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.

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.

“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.’’

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.”

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.

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.
5 years ago via ESPN

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.
5 years ago via ESPN

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.

Magic not moving Nikola Vucevic for now

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.
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