With the team stuck between irrelevance and attempting to start a rebuild, there’s a chance that the Orlando Magic could pull off a Nikola Vucevic trade this week.
In fact, the All-Star center might be the best player on the block should the 14-28 Magic opt to go in that direction. If that is indeed the case ahead of Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, the asking price is said to be astronomical.
“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,” Sam Amick and Jared Weiss of The Athletic reported recently.
To put this into perspective, the New Orleans Pelicans acquired two first-round picks, two pick swaps, Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams in the four-team off-season trade that sent Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Is a Nikola Vucevic trade worth that type of bounty? It’s really subjective in the grand scheme of things and depends heavily on who you ask.
Vucevic, 30, has morphed into one of the most-skilled big men in the game. Thus far this season, the two-time All-Star is averaging 24.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 48% shooting from the field.
He’s also taken up a three-point game recently, leading to the star center’s game translating well to the modern NBA. Vucevic is hitting on 41% of his shots from beyond the arc this season and has nailed 112 three-pointers. It’s a dramatic change from earlier in his career when the Switzerland native made a grand total of seven three-pointers in his first five NBA seasons.
What teams might be interested in a Nikola Vucevic trade?
The Boston Celtics have been bandied about more than any other team in the Association. General manager Danny Ainge is expected to be active before the NBA trade deadline comes Thursday afternoon. He’s also looking for an upgrade in the low-post with youngsters Grant Williams and Robert Williams struggling to up their games.
The issue here is Ainge’s previous unwillingness to part with draft pick assets to find a third star with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Given Orlando’s asking price, it’s hard to imagine Ainge pulling the trigger here.
If it does happen, moving on from rookie first-round pick Aaron Nesmith, multiple future first-rounders and one of the Williams’ “brothers” would likely have to be in the cards. Again, I am not sure Ainge will be willing to do that.
Of other contenders out there, the Portland Trail Blazers seem to be a rather solid fit. However, it’s not known whether they have the assets to team Vucevic up with Damian Lillard. Remember, Portland has pushed back against dealing C.J. McCollum. That could be a major hiccup.
The likelier scenario here is that Orlando simply plays out the remainder of the season with its star center and looks to move off Aaron Gordon instead. He’s been bandied about in trade talks a whole lot over the past few weeks. The Magic could then rehash a potential Nikola Vucevic trade this coming summer when the market heats up around the NBA.
As it stands, this is something to keep an eye on over the next few days. Orlando will be active in selling off veteran players. Whether that includes Vucevic depends heavily on interested teams meeting its asking price.