The Orlando Magic have indeed traded away a big man prior to Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline. However, it isn’t the big man that has been in the rumor mill for the past few days. Center Nikola Vucevic is on his way to the Windy City as the centerpiece of a deal between the Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the deal on Twitter Thursday morning.
Let’s take a closer look at what each team is receiving in this trade.
Bulls Acquire Nikola Vucevic, Change Outlook of Struggling Frontcourt
While the trade itself is a bit of a surprise, Bulls fans have reason to be excited. Nikola Vucevic has been a steady player in terms of production all throughout his NBA career. This season has been no different. On an injury-riddled and, well, downright terrible Magic team, Vucevic has continued to be a bright spot. He is averaging a double-double line, with 24.5 points and 11.8 rebounds on the season.
The Bulls also landed veteran forward Al-Farouq Aminu from the Magic in the trade. Aminu is one of the most inconsistent players in the NBA, but he is an intriguing second piece in the deal as Chicago looks to address the deficiencies down low. Aminu is averaging 7.6 points and 6.0 boards this season. The 30-year-old dropped one of his best lines just two games ago for Orlando, with 17 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.
In Vucevic and Aminu, the Bulls are getting two veteran players who they hope will provide stability and leadership in what is otherwise a young locker room overall. Vucevic instantly becomes the co-star of this Chicago team alongside Zach LaVine, who has had little to no help this season. The trade seemingly positions the Bulls to make a run at either a playoff seed or, at the very least, ensure that they are a part of the play-in games for the 7 and 8 seeds in the Eastern Conference. Chicago’s current record of 19-24 has them situated 10th in the East.
Magic Land Wendell Carter Jr., Two First Round Picks
While they had to part with their best player, this trade can hardly be considered a loss for the Magic. Orlando received center Wendell Carter Jr. in the return package for Vucevic to help replace some of the production in the short term. Of course, given their injuries and current record, Orlando is playing for the future. With this in mind, acquiring first-round draft picks in both the 2021 and 2023 NBA Drafts is a huge get in this deal. The Magic also receive forward Otto Porter Jr.
Simply put, the 21-year-old Carter was a disappointment in his time as a Bull. He was sidelined by an injury for several games earlier this season and has not been a difference-maker since his return. Even so, the Magic have to be excited to swap Vucevic for a younger player at the same position who was the No. 7 overall pick in the draft just three years ago. Carter’s season numbers include averages of 10.8 points and 8.1 rebounds. The ship has pretty much sailed on Otto Porter Jr. being any sort of significant player at the NBA level. But for an injury-ravaged Magic team, he is simply an extra body that can help them get to the finish line. Porter’s averages this season include 9.9 points, 5.5 boards and 2.0 assists.
Magic Set to Enter Full Rebuild
This trade clearly shows that the Magic have ceded their seemingly annual position of being between the 6th and 8th best teams in the Eastern Conference. With Aaron Gordon still very likely to be moved prior to Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline, more youth and/or draft picks are likely on the way. The Magic have already put themselves in a good position through this Vucevic trade by landing Chicago’s first-round draft picks in both 2021 and 2023. Vucevic makes the Bulls better, but Orlando is likely getting a top-20 pick in this year’s draft. Given the miserable state of the Bulls franchise in recent years, it wouldn’t;t be surprising to see the Magic come out of this deal with a high draft pick in 2023 as well.