Nikola Vucevic is still projected to be the starting center of the Orlando Magic in the upcoming season. However, if his defense does not improve, NBA rumors suggest that the Magic will be trading him before the deadline.
The Orlando Magic entered the recent offseason with the goal of adding a quality rim protector on their frontcourt. In the NBA draft night, the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some people criticized this move by the Magic since Ibaka is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
“We certainly traded for Serge thinking long-term, and that’s our expectation,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said.
The 27-year-old power forward hinted on media day that he is planning to stay longer in Orlando, which enters the possibility that he will re-sign next summer.
“I’m looking to stay here to play forever — for [as] many, many years as possible,” Serge Ibaka said during the Magic’s media day.
In the recent free agency, the Magic acquired another defensive big man Bismack Biyombo, who signed a four-year deal worth $72 million. Despite being a backup center in Toronto, Biyombo stepped up for the Raptors when Jonas Valanciunas suffered an injury.
At some point, the Magic did not sign Biyombo just to play as a backup center for Nikola Vucevic, who believes that he should still be the starting center in Orlando in the upcoming season. Vucevic has been the most established player in Orlando in the past four years. In his four seasons with the Magic, he averaged 16.2 points and 10.7 rebounds.
The acquisition of Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka gave roster pressure on Nikola Vucevic for the first time in his four-year stint in Orlando. Coach Frank Vogel revealed in the preseason games that he plans to improve the team’s defense, which is very vital in the modern NBA.
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According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Orlando Magic will be trading Nikola Vucevic if they find it hard giving enough playing time for their pile of big men. Vucevic may not be a good rim protector but he is undeniably an asset on the offensive end.
Lowe sees the New Orleans Pelicans and the Portland Trail Blazers as potential trade destination of Vucevic but both teams are yet to express their interests to proceed with the deal. If Vucevic’s defense will not improve, there is a higher possibility that he will be out of the Magic’s roster before the trade deadline.
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