Nikola Vucevic Traded to Bulls; Magic Get Wendell Carter, Otto Porter and Picks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 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 Orlando Magic have completed a blockbuster trade to send All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for center Wendell Carter Jr., forward Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round draft picks.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Orlando will receive first-round picks in 2021 and 2023.

Vucevic is enjoying one of the best statistical seasons of his 10-year NBA career. He averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.7 threes in 44 games for Orlando before the trade. He shot 48 percent from the field, including 40.6 percent from three-point range, and ranks 18th in Player Efficiency Rating.

The 30-year-old USC product has worked to evolve his game significantly since he entered the league as a traditional post player when the Philadelphia 76ers selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft.

Vucevic has developed a reliable outside shot after not taking more than 10 threes in any of his first five seasons, and he's taken on an important playmaking role this season as the Magic deal with several injuries to members of their guard rotation.

In February, Orlando head coach Steve Clifford explained what makes him such a special talent:

"He's an elite decision-maker. He shoots when he should shoot. He passes when he should pass. And he makes his teammates better just by the very nature of how he plays. That's what our game [is]. If you watch the best teams now and the best players, [that's what you see].

"People talk about shooting. Shooting's a huge piece of it. But guys that can just shoot and aren't good decision-makers or can't play off the dribble, that was three years ago, four years ago. That's not good enough anymore. He's our best playmaker—not even close—because he makes the right play."

His importance to the Magic's offense combined with the fact that he's under contract through 2023 as part of a four-year, $100 million deal makes it surprising the front office traded him despite the team's struggles.

That said, his acquisition is a major boost for the Bulls ahead of the deadline as they look to upgrade their roster for a potential playoff run.

Vucevic should take over as the starting center in Chicago, while Carter could see an expanded role in Orlando after averaging 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds in 32 games for the Bulls this season.