fbpx

PREVIEW: Reworked rosters on both sides as Orlando Magic set to host Portland Trail Blazers

Mar 12, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) shoots over Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bulls center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) shoots over Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson (55) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic and the Portland Trail Blazers each swung deals before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline in advance of their game on Friday night in Orlando.

The Magic were one of the busiest in the league, making three trades. All-Star center Nikola Vucevic was shipped to Chicago, forward Aaron Gordon to Denver and guard Evan Fournier to Boston.

The trades kick-started a rebuild for the Magic around 23-year-old forward Jonathan Isaac and 22-year-old guard Markelle Fultz.

In the Vucevic deal, the Magic acquired two future first-round picks, reported to be in 2021 and 2023, as well as Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. Al-Farouq Aminu is also going to Chicago.

Orlando also acquired 20-year-old rookie R.J. Hampton, 26-year-old shooting guard Gary Harris and the Nuggets’ protected 2025 first-round pick in the Gordon deal.

Fournier, who was averaging a career-high 19.7 points and 3.7 assists per game this season, brought the Magic a pair of second-round picks. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Vucevic is averaging 24.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent overall and 40.6 percent from 3-point range. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds to help the Magic upset the Phoenix Suns 112-111 at home on Wednesday night.

“Anytime you trade a player like Nikola, it is a tough decision to make,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said in a statement. “‘Vooch’ will go down as one of the best players to ever wear a Magic uniform, and we can’t thank him enough for all the contributions he made to the organization, both on and off the court.”

Carter, 21, averaged 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Bulls this season. Porter, 27, is joining his third NBA team and is averaging 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds.

“Wendell is a talented young player, who is just starting to blossom,” Weltman said. “We are excited not only to add him to our team, but to watch him continue to develop into the player we think he can become.”

Related: 2021 NBA mock draft – Top prospects, top landing spots

The Blazers acquired sharp-shooting guard Norman Powell from the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood.

Powell, who has a player option worth $11.6 million for next season, is averaging career-highs in points per game (19.6) as well as 3-point percentage (43.9) and 3-pointers made per game (2.8).

“He’s a really good two-way player. He’s what we need,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said pregame on Thursday night. “He’s going to have a major role with our team. The one thing that always stands out when looking at his film is he is always ready to play defense. Obviously, we are a 3-point shooting team.”

Related: 50 Top NBA players of 2021 – Giannis, Kawhi, LeBron battle for #1

The Blazers are one of the league’s top 3-point shooting teams, averaging 16.3 made triples per game following their 125-122 win at Miami on Thursday night. Portland made 20 3-pointers, including six from CJ McCollum, who finished with 35 points.

Portland is also expected to have Jusuf Nurkic back in its lineup on Friday night. Nurkic suffered a right wrist fracture on Jan. 14 and had surgery shortly after. Nurkic is averaging 9.8 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

“He’ll be on a minutes restriction,” Stotts said. “It’ll be good to have him back. The impact that he can have on our team defensively is obvious. We’ve struggled defensively without him.”

–Field Level Media

Read More: Winners and losers of eventful NBA trade deadline