Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
“I’m happy where I am. When I re-signed with the Magic, I knew it was going to be a process and I knew we weren’t going to turn into a championship team right away… It’s unfortunate we’ve had all of these injuries. I think we are headed in the right direction, but we have lost two very important players—Markelle [Fultz] and J.I. [Jonathan Isaac]—for the season. If we were healthier, our goals would be much different and we could achieve much more. But that’s just part of the journey. Unexpected things are going to happen.”
Vucevic is in the midst of a terrific statistical season, averaging a career-high 24.6 points along with 11.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2.6 threes. He’s shooting 48.8 percent from the field, including a career-high 41.3 percent from three.
Given that success, it’s no surprise he’s generated widespread attention ahead of the deadline.
The question is whether the Magic, who rank 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 13-25 record, would be willing to trade their franchise cornerstone to embark on a more full-scale rebuild.
So far it sounds like the answer is no. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Orlando has sent “strong signals” it plans to keep Vucevic.
The Magic do have some other players who could attract interest before the deadline. Aaron Gordon could be an attractive target for a contender seeking a high-impact player who could headline a second unit, while Evan Fournier has been impressive in between injury absences.
No one else can generate the type of return Vucevic would, though. It would be difficult to set up a complete roster overhaul, which typically requires cap space and a significant number of draft picks, without moving him.
So the Magic may ultimately decide to chalk the 2020-21 campaign up as one derailed by injuries and see what happens next year with a healthy roster before making any bold moves.