The first big move ahead of today’s NBA trade deadline is reportedly here. The Orlando Magic are making a long awaited deal involving All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, who is heading to the Chicago Bulls.
After the pieces of the deal were reported bit by bit by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania, we have the full trade now. Vucevic and veteran wing Al-Farouq Aminu are heading to the Bulls. Chicago is sending Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., and a pair of first-round picks down to Orlando.
Vucevic is the clear centerpiece here. The two-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 24.5 points per game, along with 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He’s one of the more skilled offensive centers in the game, and should make for a really fun combo with Chicago’s breakout star guard Zach LaVine.
It is a move that signals that the Bulls want to make a true playoff run, as well. The team is currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference at 19-24, which would place them in the new play-in round of the NBA Playoffs. Vucevic should help them vault up closer to the heart of the race.
Here's the deal: The Bulls land Nikola Vucevic and Al Farouq Aminu for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., and two first-round picks. Huge addition for Chicago, who remains in pursuit of Lonzo Ball. The Magic are moving toward a rebuild now with Aaron Gordon deal on deck.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
This may validate the NBA’s decision to expand the playoff picture, and reduce the number of teams clearly tanking at this point in the season. In years past, a 10th place Bulls team may not have made an aggressive move like this, but they clearly see value in making the field this year.
At the same time, it is not clear whether LaVine and Nikola Vucevic is enough to really contend to make any noise in the postseason, and two future first-round picks is a lot to give up.
There are just a few more hours for teams to gear up for their own playoff runs. The NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET this afternoon.
Update: More on the draft pick portion of this deal, from Shams.
The Bulls sent Orlando two first-round picks (2021, 2023) — including top-4 protected this year, sources said. It will likely convey to Orlando. https://t.co/Y6P6wCndMM
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 25, 2021
It’s a high price for the Bulls to play, but respect to a franchise trying to climb out of a very bad stretch and compete.