The Chicago Bulls are making a run for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic in a heady trade that includes two first-round draft picks (2021 and 2023), Otto Porter, and Wendell Carter, Jr.
Vucevic, 30, spent nine of his 10 NBA seasons with the Orlando Magic. He averaged a career-high 24.5 ppg and 11.8 rebounds this season and earned a second trip to the All-Star Game.
Porter, 27, averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds off the bench as a small forward with the Chicago Bulls this season.
Carter, Jr. turns 22 next month. He started 112 games with the Chicago Bulls since they selected him with the #7 overall pick out of Duke in the 2018 NBA Draft. Carter averages 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Apparently, the Bulls aren’t done upgrading their team. They also want to secure Lonzo Ball in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans before the trade deadline.
Orlando Magic Wanted to Trade … Everyone
Three teams dominate the top-heavy Eastern Conference: the Philadelphia 76ers, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets. The second tier in the East includes eight mediocre teams hovering around .500 that are all fighting for playoff spots. The Chicago Bulls (19-24) are among those teams, but currently sit on the playoff bubble and are ranked #10 in the East.
The Orlando Magic (15-29), who suffered numerous injuries to starters, find themselves in the third and bottom tier in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are the second-worst team in the East behind the Detroit Pistons (12-31). Overall, the Magic are the fourth-worst team in the NBA.
The Magic punted on their season and sold their best player to the highest bidder. Vucevic, who carried the Magic for the last few seasons, will have a shot at playing for a better organization. The Chicago Bulls have several exciting young players, including Zach LaVine and Coby White. A veteran big man like Vucevic is exactly what the Bulls need if they expect to make a legit playoff run during the last third of the season.
During a recent losing streak, the Magic said they were open to trading almost everyone on the team. The Magic recently shipped Evan Fournier to the Boston Celtics, and they’re looking to move Aaron Gordon before the trade deadline at noon PT today.
Windy City Vucevic
The offensively-challenged Magic averaged 104 ppg, ranking #29 out of 30 teams. Vucevic led the Magic with 24.5 ppg and he was the primary weapon for the second-worst offense in the league.
As a big man who’s a shade under 7-foot, Vucevic also shot 40.6% from 3-point range, which put him in good company with some of the NBA’s elite sharpshooters.
It’s tough to say that Vucevic was Orlando’s version of Nikola Jokic from the Denver Nuggets. But if you take a deeper look at Vucevic’s game, the two big men from Eastern Europe share many similar traits. They can grind out a possession on the blocks and post up like an old-school center. But Vucevic and Jokic are modern NBA centers, which means they have strong ball-handling skills, shoot treys with high proficiency, and run a slick pick-and-roll game.
The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Vucevic out of USC with the #16 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, but then traded him to the Magic before the start of the 2012-13 season. In nine seasons with the Magic, Vucevic played in obscurity in Orlando, yet averaged 16.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He earned a trip to the 2019 All-Star Game and secured a second spot in the 2021 All-Star Game this season as a member of Team Durant.
With the deadline approaching, check out more NBA trade rumors.