NBA Rumors: Mavs Tried to Sign Magic's Nikola Vucevic in FA; Was Too Expensive

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) looks to pass the ball against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Dallas Mavericks reportedly made a run at center Nikola Vucevic during the 2019 free-agency period, but they couldn't match the four-year, $100 million contract he received from the Orlando Magic

Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News provided details of the Mavs' pursuit Monday:

Brad Townsend @townbrad

Devin Harris on @FOXSportsSW says of the Mavs’ respect and familiarity with Nikola Vucevic, who has the same agent as Luka Doncic: “I think they tried to go after him in free agency.” I was told there certainly was interest but he was out of Mavs’ price range in FA.

Vucevic is enjoying a terrific 2020-21 season with the Magic. He's averaging a career-high 24.5 points along with 11.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.0 steal while shooting 48.3 percent from the field, including 41.8 percent from three-point range.

Putting him in a lineup alongside Kristaps Porzingis in an offense run by Luka Doncic would have given the Mavericks an astounding amount of versatility, making the group an matchup nightmare.

Instead, Dallas has played Porzingis mostly at center and tried to fill in the gaps with the likes of Maxi Kleber, Willie Cauley-Stein, Dwight Powell and Boban Marjanovic.

Unable to reach Vucevic's asking price of around $25 million annually, the Mavs instead re-signed Powell (three years, $33.2 million) and Kleber (four years, $35.6 million) during free agency the same year. Together they are counting $19.4 million against the cap this season.

It's fair to wonder whether the Mavericks front office should have tried to work a little more cap magic two years ago to try land Vucevic.

The extra star power sure would have helped with Dallas trying to keep pace in a Western Conference loaded with legitimate contenders. It currently sits ninth despite an above-.500 record (17-16).

Meanwhile, the Magic haven't found much success despite their star center's individual success, ranking 14th in the East with a 13-22 record.

Dallas won the head-to-head meeting Monday, 130-124, and returns to action Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder for its final game before the All-Star break.