Nikola Vucevic Re-ups With the Magic
Fox Sports Asia
What’s the deal?
Vucevic has returned to the Orlando Magic on a $100 million deal, according to Shams. Spotrac estimates the deal to begin around $22 million and gradually raise each season. So, what does this signing mean to a Magic team that is looking to make back-to-back playoff appearances?
What does Nikola Vucevic bring to the team?
At 28-years-old, Vucevic is in his prime. This showed by the center making his first All-Star game last season. Vuc put up 20 and 12 while impressively dishing out 3.8 assists. Even more impressive, however, was his ability to stretch the floor. Firs the first time in his career Vucevic shot league average from deep.
The Magic want to build off of last year’s success and Vucevic will help them do that. Much of the offense runs through him, which is evident by his 24th highest usage rate in the league last year. Furthermore, his assist percentage finished 3rd among all centers last season. As the Magic develop Markelle Fultz, expect Vucevic to become a primary facilitator from the post or even the perimeter.
Additionally, Vucevic made major strides as the roll man during screens. In the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons he finished in the 22nd and 28th percentile in this category, respectively. This season he finished in the 61st percentile. Expect the All-Star center to add more short roll passes to his game while concurrently upping his efficiency.
What this move means for the Magic?
With wing Terrence Ross also returning to Orlando, the Magic must have their eyes on a higher postseason seed. The addition of veteran Al-Farouq Aminu only bolsters that notion. Combined with these free agent signings, any internal development from lottery picks Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba or Fultz could have Orlando competing for seeds 5-7.
Simultaneously, this move allows for the Magic to dangle one of their other bigs as trade bait. One of Gordon or Isaac could be moved. Gordon has a regressive contract and has been on the block in the past. Isaac seems to be a defensive star in the making and would be a nice pair next to Vucevic due to the former’s combination of agility and rim protection.
While I think Bamba could still develop as the backup center, his name could hit the rumor mill as well. It will be hard to give him the minutes needed to maximize his potential. The Vucevic and Aminu signings make it possible for Orlando to look for a guard upgrade via trade.
How would you grade this contract?
This contract deserves an A. Will Vucevic be overpaid at some point during this contract? Yes. Yet, he is in his physical prime and adapting to the modern game as we speak. Also, what is the alternative? Letting him walk would send the Magic back to the lottery.
Orlando finally has something positive going for them and keeping Vucevic around will ensure this culture change sticks around. Making the playoffs will be good enough for Magic fans and if they are lucky, Vucevic can lead them to a first round upset. I look forward to this team carrying over the success from last year with big Montenegrin center leading the way.