Despite losing all their “Big Three” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, the Los Angeles Clippers are surprisingly establishing an impressive performance in the 2018-19 NBA season. As of now, the Clippers are sitting in the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference and looking much better than the other Los Angeles team that acquired the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James, in the recent free agency.
Even without a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster, the Clippers are one of the best offensive teams in the league. Per ESPN, the Clippers are currently ranked 11th in the NBA’s offensive efficiency, scoring 109.0 points per 100 possessions. According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, the Clippers could further improve their performance on the offensive end of the floor by trading for Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic before the February NBA trade deadline.
Nikola Vucevic is currently playing the best season in his NBA career. In 45 games he played, the 28-year-old center is averaging 20.3 points, 11.9 points, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steal on 51.8 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Trading for Vucevic will greatly help the Clippers with their goal to return to the Western Conference Playoffs this season and since he’s an expiring contract, Los Angeles will still have the salary cap flexibility to chase the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency.
Los Angeles Lakers: Nikola Vucevic can be the difference for a Finals push https://t.co/zUv5CsupP9— The Herald Examiner (@HeraldExaminer) January 22, 2019
In the proposed trade deal by Bleacher Report, the Clippers will be sending Marcin Gortat, Jerome Robinson, and a 2019 second-round pick to the Magic for Nikola Vucevic. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. However, as Buckley noted, the Clippers’ successful acquisition of Vucevic depends on how the Magic see Robinson and the future second-round pick.
“The Clippers likely come out ahead in this exchange, but this is hardly a fleecing. Remember, Vucevic is on an expiring contract and is blocking Mo Bamba and Jonathan Issac. Plus, there aren’t many win-now buyers in need of a new starting center. If Orlando places lottery value on Jerome Robinson (last summer’s No. 13 pick) and views what almost assuredly will be Cleveland’s second-rounder as a late first, those are two future assets for a rental. This all hinges on the Magic’s valuation of Robinson.”
With the presence of Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac on their roster, trading Nikola Vucevic before the February NBA trade deadline will be the Magic’s best option than losing him in the summer of 2019 as an unrestricted free agent without getting anything in return. However, with Vucevic’s current performance, the Magic must be expecting a trade package that includes at least one future first-round pick.