Following a 6-2 start this season, the Magic lost 21 of their last 28 games entering the All-Star break, fueling trade speculation about many of their most productive veterans, including standout center Nikola Vucevic. However, Vucevic doesn’t sound like someone who’s eager to leave Orlando, telling Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel that he loves being with the Magic.
“I’m happy where I am,” Vucevic said. “When I re-signed with the Magic, I knew it was going to be a process and I knew we weren’t going to turn into a championship team right away.
“… It’s unfortunate we’ve had all of these injuries. I think we are headed in the right direction, but we have lost two very important players — Markelle (Fultz) and J.I. (Jonathan Isaac) — for the season. If we were healthier, our goals would be much different and we could achieve much more. But that’s just part of the journey. Unexpected things are going to happen.”
Expressing loyalty to one’s team publicly isn’t uncommon even for a player who would prefer a change of scenery. But there’s reason to believe Vucevic’s stance is genuine. The All-Star center recently told Shams Charania of The Athletic that he likes the idea of building a legacy with one team, citing Damian Lillard‘s loyalty to the Trail Blazers as a point of reference.
Of course, Vucevic doesn’t have any veto power over a trade, so the Magic don’t need his approval to move him if they get an offer they like. And several teams – including the Celtics, Heat, Spurs, and Hornets – are said to have “significant” interest in the 30-year-old. Still, all indications are that Orlando isn’t looking to trade Vucevic and would require a massive return to consider making a deal.
For now, players like Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, and perhaps Terrence Ross appear to be more likely trade candidates than Vucevic, who is having a career year with 24.6 PPG and 11.6 RPG on .483/.412/.851 shooting. Vucevic is under contract through the 2022/23 season, so the Magic would have plenty of opportunities to consider moving the big man in future years if they hang onto him through the 2021 deadline.