Nikola Vucevic traded from Magic to Bulls: Instant grades and reaction
By Zach Harper 3h ago 45
We have our first blockbuster trade of deadline day in 2021. The Orlando Magic have been hounded for Aaron Gordon all week, with multiple teams looking to deal for the forward. But the Chicago Bulls have slipped in to acquire a two-time All-Star center.
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting the Magic have moved Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter and two first-round picks.
It’s time to react to this trade and throw some grades at both the Magic and Bulls. Let’s get the red ink out here!
Chicago Bulls acquire Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu
This is a pretty significant move by Arturas Karnisovas and the new regime in Chicago. This Bulls team has looked much better and happier under Karnisovas and Billy Donovan. But they’re still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. With the NBA expanding to the play-in tournament, the Bulls finding their way into at least the top 10 in the Eastern Conference has become a must for them. They’re hoping acquiring All-Star center Vucevic can accomplish just that.
Vucevic has been an interesting big man. If you look at his stats on the surface, he puts up a lot of numbers you’d love to have from your modern big man. He’s a double-double machine. He can move the ball and rack up assists out of the post and mid-post. He can shoot the 3-ball quite well. Across the board, you love the production that he has for a big man. But does he make your team better? And does he make it a winning team?
The numbers in Orlando didn’t always point to that. Sometimes the team played better without him on the floor. Not to mention he can be a bit of a defensive liability, and considering the Bulls have been inconsistent, that could negatively affect that end of the floor for them. But the Bulls have also been inconsistent on offense, as well, and we know Vucevic can greatly help them there.
Is pairing him with Zach LaVine the right combination for pushing through the East? The Bulls are banking on it and paying a significant price to find out with the draft picks headed out.
Aminu, if healthy, has the potential to help tie some of the defensive inconsistencies together and iron out those problems. He did great things defensively in Dallas and Portland during his career. His body didn’t allow him to do any of that in Orlando, and Chicago will have to hope to find him some consistent moments on the court. If that happens, we could see this being a brilliant part of this trade, as well.
It also could open the door for more deals for Chicago, possibly involving Lauri Markkanen. It’s a big gamble by Chicago, but maybe that’s what it needed.
Orlando Magic acquire Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter, 2021 and 2023 first-round picks
I love this move for the Orlando Magic. No offense to their multiple playoff appearances with Vucevic on the team over the last couple years, but this Magic team has gone pretty much nowhere with the All-Star big man in the middle. They’re one of the worst teams in the NBA, and things aren’t going to get better for them any time soon. They’ve decided to have a fire sale with their best players, and the return so far is phenomenal.
Carter hasn’t exactly worked out in Chicago, but there is still a lot of meat on that bone in terms of potential. Carter was asked pretty quickly to fix the defensive issues of a bad defensive team, and it didn’t seem like Donovan believed in him much as a big helping them for a playoff push. He can move the ball, and he should be able to show some significant versatility on offense. But his real impact will happen if he becomes the Al Horford-esque defensive player many hoped and/or projected him to be heading into his draft class.
On top of that, the Magic receive two first-round picks: a lightly protected first in 2021 and a pick in 2023. They’re banking on the Bulls not being good enough in those two years, and even if they’re not, you’re probably looking at picks in the 16-to-20 range. That’s a great value in return for a guy who wasn’t bringing you to the playoffs anymore. They will likely turn Porter into a buyout candidate, so the return lies in Carter becoming a big man of the future for them and the two picks they receive. Brilliant return.