4 playoff-caliber teams interested in Magic center Nikola Vucevic

Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports /

With the Orlando Magic floating near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, four playoff teams are eyeing star center Nikola Vucevic.

The 2021 NBA All-Star Game is in the books, which means the trade deadline is on the horizon. March 25 is the date that team executives will keep an eye on, as playoff contenders will look to bolster their rosters ahead of the postseason, while basement-dwelling teams look to sell players for draft capital.

The Orlando Magic sit in 14th place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-23 record. While the Magic do have a hypothetical chance of making the playoffs, as they sit four games behind the Toronto Raptors for the 8-seed, they could opt to blow it up and trade some players. One name receiving plenty of interest is center Nikola Vucevic.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, four playoff-contending teams have “expressed significant interest” in acquiring Vucevic. Those teams are the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and the Charlotte Hornets.

Will Orlando actually trade Nikola Vucevic?

O’Connor notes in his piece that there are team executives that are not convinced the Magic would actually decide to trade Vucevic. Given his play and the fact that he still has two seasons remaining on his four-year, $100 million contract, the Magic will want to acquire a huge return. It is unknown if any of the four aforementioned teams would be willing to meet Orlando’s demands.

Vucevic’s production really picked up in recent years. Back in the 2018-19 season, the center made the All-Star team for the first time of his career and averaged a career-high 20.8 points per game at year’s end. This season, he is on pace to shatter that mark.

Through 36 games, Vucevic has averaged 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists a night while shooting 48.3 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from the 3-point line. Those numbers were good enough to earn the center his second All-Star nomination.

There are still a couple of weeks for the Magic to determine whether they want to blow things up by trading Vucevic or treat this season like an anomaly and keep him in hopes of turning their luck around next year. The Celtics, Spurs, Hornets and Heat will all try their best to convince the Magic to take the former approach.

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