Having re-signed Aaron Gordon and drafted Mohamed Bamba this summer, the Magic head into the 2018/19 season with a crowded frontcourt. In addition to Gordon and Bamba, the big men seeking roles in Orlando’s rotation will include Nikola Vucevic, Jonathan Isaac, Timofey Mozgov, Jarell Martin, and Khem Birch.
Given the logjam up front, not to mention his expiring contract, Vucevic is “expected to be available on the trade market” prior to the February deadline, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. As Scotto observes, the veteran center doesn’t really fit team management’s desire for “length and versatility,” meaning he’s unlikely to be part of the Magic’s long-term plans.
Vucevic, who made 57 starts for Orlando last season, remains a productive frontcourt player, having averaged 16.5 PPG and 9.2 RPG in 2017/18. The 27-year-old also continues to evolve as an offensive player — he posted a career-high 3.4 APG last year and made an effort to become an outside shooting threat. Vucevic knocked down 64 three-pointers in ’17/18 after making a total of 30 in his first six NBA seasons.
Still, Gordon, Bamba, and Isaac represent the building blocks of the future in the Magic’s frontcourt, making another contract for Vucevic a long shot. The former USC standout will earn $12.75MM in 2018/19 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, so he could appeal to a team that wants to add a big man to its roster without compromising future cap flexibility.
The Lakers immediately come to mind as one club that fits that bill, though there are others that could qualify, especially if teams are hit by the injury bug or if the Magic are willing to take on multiyear contracts in a hypothetical trade.