NBA Trade Rumors: Nikola Vucevic Targeted by Spurs, Heat, Celtics, Hornets

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2021

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) attempts a 3-point shot during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets are reportedly interested in acquiring Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline.

According to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, those teams have "significant interest," but some front-office executives around the NBA are "skeptical" the Magic are willing to move the All-Star.

Vucevic has made the All-Star team in two of the last three seasons and has emerged as one of the most versatile big men in basketball. He's averaging 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists this year while shooting a career-high 41.2 percent from three-point range.

The Magic have Vucevic under contract at a manageable salary ($24 million in 2021-22 and $22 million in 2022-23), so there is no urgency to make a move. However, Orlando had the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference in the first half (13-23) and lacks a path toward immediate contention. Trading Vucevic at the height of his value with two years left on his contract may be the best way to accelerate a rebuild.

The Heat seem least likely of the aforementioned teams to make a move for Vucevic given the presence of Bam Adebayo. However, San Antonio, Boston and Charlotte all have long-term voids at center that could be filled.

LaMarcus Aldridge has shown marked signs of decline in San Antonio and has an expiring contract. The Celtics and Hornets have been making do with below-average play at center, but Boston ranks among the season's biggest disappointments. Adding Vucevic could decrease the burden on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

The Hornets have several expiring contracts that could make the money work and may want to capitalize on their 17-18 start. Vucevic would instantly improve the center spot and add further offensive versatility to a team that has Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball playing well.