Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic is one of the NBA veterans who is expected to be moved before the February NBA trade deadline. Since the Magic selected Mo Bamba as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, most people believe that Vucevic’s days in Orlando are already numbered. The 28-year-old big man is set to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
If the Magic see Mo Bamba as their center of the future, trading Nikola Vucevic will be their best option than losing him in the summer of 2019 without getting anything in return. According to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times, one of the NBA teams who is keeping an eye on Vucevic before the February NBA trade deadline is the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Former USC big man Nikola Vucevic made his first All-Star game this week, and he remains an interesting rental option for the Lakers if they strike out on Davis. The Orlando Magic, who haven’t been to the postseason since 2012, have faded and are four games out of the No. 8 spot in the East.”
Some people may wonder why the Lakers are targeting Nikola Vucevic. They currently have a plethora of centers on their roster, including JaVale McGee, Tyson Chandler, Ivica Zubac, and Moritz Wagner. However, none of those big men has the ability to space the floor like Vucevic.
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In the past years, Nikola Vucevic has succeeded to make himself fit in the modern NBA by adding three-point shooting in his sets of skills. This season, Vucevic is currently averaging 20.7 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists. 1.2 blocks, and 1.0 steal on 52.1 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Having a big man who can be a threat from the three-point line will be beneficial for LeBron James as it will make it easier for him to penetrate the opposing team’s defense.
As of now, it remains unknown what type of trade assets the Lakers are willing to give up to convince the Magic to send Nikola Vucevic to Los Angeles. According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the trade scenario where Vucevic will be traded to the Lakers in exchange for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a future first-round pick remains as one of his “favorite hypothetical deals.” Sacrificing a future first-round pick for a possible one-year rental is undeniably a tough pill to swallow for the Lakers but it could be the only way to persuade the Magic to make a deal, especially now that Vucevic has been named as an NBA All-Star.