Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic played the best season in his NBA career, averaging 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 1.0 steal on 51.8 percent shooting from the field and 36.4 percent shooting from beyond the arc. With his impressive performance on both ends of the floor, the 28-year-old center managed to earn his first NBA All-Star selection this season.
From being the odd man out in Orlando, Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman revealed in a recent interview with the Orlando Sentinel that bringing Nikola Vucevic back will be their “priority” next summer. However, Vucevic is yet to commit to re-signing with the Magic and wants to keep his options open in the 2019 NBA free agency.
“Obviously I’ve had a great seven years here, but at the same time, we’ll see what happens,” Vucevic said.
Nikola Vucevic’s decision will likely depend on what type of contract the Magic are willing to offer him next July. If the Magic give him a contract less than what he thinks he deserves, Vucevic may consider seeking a huge payday somewhere else. One of the NBA teams who could express strong interest in signing Vucevic is the Dallas Mavericks.
According to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, as quoted by HoopsHype, the Mavericks have been keeping an eye on Nikola Vucevic in the past months. After the February NBA trade deadline, the Mavericks were reportedly sending several members of their front office to watch some of Vucevic’s games.
“It should be noted that Mavericks dispatched a high-ranking member of their front office to observe several post-trade deadline Magic games, ostensibly to scout Vucevic.”
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) March 9, 2019
Creating salary cap space to give Nikola Vucevic a max contract will be difficult for the Mavericks but it’s possible. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that their focus in the 2019 NBA offseason is to bring all their incoming free agents back. However, if they see that they have a strong chance of landing Vucevic, Cuban and the Mavericks may consider having a change of plan.
According to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, the Mavericks have the ability to offer Nikola Vucevic a four-year, $140.6 million contract if they sign him before giving Kristaps Porzingis his massive contract extension. However, the Mavericks will be needing to let Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber walk away in the 2019 NBA free agency. Another thing that the Mavericks could do to create salary cap space is to attach their own 2019 first-round pick or another future first-rounder to get rid of the lucrative contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. or Courtney Lee.
Giving Nikola Vucevic a max contract will undeniably bury the Mavericks deep in the luxury hell. However, the Mavericks should make such move if they are confident that the trio of Vucevic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Luka Doncic can bring them closer to ending their almost a decade of title drought.