Orlando Magic can’t make roster moves until Nikola Vucevic’s decision

Orlando Magic Nikola Vucevic (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Orlando Magic Nikola Vucevic (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

For the Orlando Magic, filling out their team in free agency doesn’t start until the Nikola Vucevic situation has concluded.

The Orlando Magic have consistently reiterated their desire to keep unrestricted free agent Nikola Vucevic.

They appear set to put their money where their math is. Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported the Magic are preparing to offer their All-Star big a four-year deal at around $90 million.

This deal would put the Magic over the cap, and leave them with roughly $9 million dollars to spend with the non-taxpayer mid-level exception after using Nikola Vucevic’s Bird Rights to re-sign him.

If Nikola Vucevic walks and Orlando does not re-sign Terrence Ross, the team would have roughly $18 million in cap space to configure the rest of the roster around what they currently have.

This is why the Vucevic situation would be ideal to get done as early as possible and the Magic seem set to make their opening salvo to Vucevic when the starting gun blares Sunday.

One could argue both sides of whether offering Vucevic four-years is a good idea or not. Running back virtually the same roster could put the Magic into the treadmill of mediocrity and limit Mohamed Bamba’s minutes. But not re-signing him could cause the team to take a step back, throwing Mohamed Bamba into the fire, ready or not.

Regardless, the Magic cannot move forward with filling out their team until Vucevic has decided.

The problem is Vucevic should have plenty of suitors — from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Boston Celtics to the Sacramento Kings. All are loaded with cap space that could theoretically offer him more money as well as a better opportunity to win immediately. Sacramento and Orlando seem even at this stage of their development if either had Vucevic.

The Lakers have their eyes on bigger fish, such as Kawhi Leonard. Boston is now the favorite to sign Kemba Walker, which limits the team’s cap space. Sacramento has the space, even with a deal with Harrison Barnes in place when free agency begins, according to Carmichael David of KHTK 1140 AM in Sacramento. The Kings may be a more enticing rebuilding project than Orlando to Vucevic.

When it comes to money, the Magic can structure the contract to pay him $25 million in the first year with decreases on the back end to reach the $90 million amount. The question is whether a team would be willing to pay him more than $22.5 million average the Magic seem set to pay.

But Orlando is where Vucevic has spent almost his entire career up to this point. He has made an All-Star team this season, upped his season averages to new heights and ended the Magic’s playoff drought.

He did not perform well in the postseason against the eventual NBA Champions. But there would be no playoff experience for Orlando if Vucevic was not the offensive focal point and best player on the team.

While a feeling of angst is present about Vucevic and Terrence Ross’ unrestricted free agency, Vucevic deserves all the time in the world to make his decision about where he will play next.

A swift choice would be best for Orlando, but it is not like the Magic are going to be players in free agency with their limited space as it stands today. Orlando will have to work quickly to have things in place should Vucevic decide to leave.

But they have clearly made Vucevic their priority.

Next. 5 under-the-radar free agents the Magic should pursue. dark

Offer Nikola Vucevic a contract that is best for Orlando, let him take his free agency meetings if he pleases and give him the time he has earned. But whether he returns or not, the real work for the Magic’s front office begins after his decision is made.