The Orlando Magic have made their 7-foot big man available in trade talks, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Vucevic is having his worst statistical year since his rookie season, scoring fewer points, grabbing fewer boards, and shooting the ball at just 44.1%.
Regardless of his down season, Vucevic is a proven starter and with career averages of 14 points and just under 10 rebounds, he would prove to be a valuable big man for a team in need of presence down low. Here are the top 3 teams that would benefit the most from a trade for the big man.
Even with Kemba Walker emerging as a possible first-time All-Star this season, the East has been an incredibly close race this year, with just 4 games separating the 4th seed Hornets and the 12th seed pistons. For this reason, I see Charlotte trying to stay ahead of the competition by getting Vucevic.
The Hornets current starting center, Cody Zeller, has pulled down double-digit rebounds just twice in their last 10 games, and backup center Roy Hibbert has been a disappointment this season averaging career lows. Vucevic would give this young team a change down low and an advantage against their competition.
The Trailblazers have been a disappointment this season after last year's squad shattered expectations and went to the second round before being eliminated by Golden State. One reason of the disappointing start is the fact that the trailblazers have only one active center, Mason Plumlee. Their offseason acquisition, Festus Ezeli, is likely out for the season after suffering a knee injury before even playing his first game for Portland.
After pleasantly surprising last season, Portland looked to free agency to take the next step and make it further in the Playoffs. Unfortunately, after signing Evan Turner to a 4-year, $70 million deal, he has struggled to fit in and has made the team 20.2 points worse per 100 possessions. With an opportunity to gain depth at the center position and put themselves back into the playoff race in the West, look for Portland to shake things up.
Sitting at the 9th seed, the Bulls haven’t been able to perform well enough to stay in the playoff race so far. An offseason trade sent longtime center and fan-favorite Joakim Noah to New York, leaving Robin Lopez as the starting center on a team that features a star-studded backcourt but no real rim protector. It's clear Nikola Vucevic needs a change of scenery, and Chicago needs help in the frontcourt. A trade to the Windy City could help rejuvenate Vucevic’s career, and at just 26 could still hit his prime in time to help Chicago contend in the playoffs.
Although these teams may not be the most popular destinations or be swirling in rumors, I believe if they acquire Nikola Vucevic it could help put the team back on track to meet and exceed pre-season expectations. The Hornets could lock up the 3rd seed in the East, pairing a dangerous one-two punch of Kemba and Nikola. The Trailblazers could once again look to make it to the second round of the playoffs. Chicago could make the postseason after missing it last year. Nikola Vucevic has made it clear he doesn’t like the benching he’s received lately, and a change of scenery can boost his production and he can be on a playoff team for the first time since his rookie season.