Orlando Magic’s front office has finally committed to a path

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Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs
Nikola Vucevic made his debut for the Chicago Bulls but not before giving a heartfelt goodbye to the Orlando Magic. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vucevic deal

There were some rumblings of a possible Nikola Vucevic deal leading up to the deadline. The consensus, however, seemed to be that Orlando was demanding an awful lot for the team’s All-Star center and that no team was willing to meet the demand.

But Jeff Weltman deemed the offer of Wendell Carter, Otto Porter and two first-round picks acceptable enough to end the center’s nine-year stay in Florida.

The Magic did not get back anyone near Vucevic’s level, instead taking a very deliberate step backward seemingly to maximize the chances of this year’s draft pick falling at the very top while obtaining more draft compensation in the process.

Carter could yet develop into a very good NBA player. But the player return felt a little underwhelming.

We had heard so much about a huge package being demanded for Vucevic, but an expiring contract in Porter and a promising youngster with lots of question marks around his game in Carter still seems low. Magic fans were entitled to expect a higher return.

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4 Bulls who deserved a higher ranking in B/R's NBA Top 100
4 Bulls who deserved a higher ranking in B/R's NBA Top 100 /

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  • The risk comes with how much Chicago will achieve with its new All-Star. The Bulls have probably already lost enough games this season for the 2021 pick to be worth something, but who knows what will happen with the 2023 pick. Chicago might be a strong postseason team by then.

    Both picks are also top-four protected and with the unpredictability of the NBA lottery, nothing is guaranteed. Magic fans will be hoping for the Bulls to be bad, but not too bad. The big return for Vucevic hinges on these picks, and Weltman has bet on Chicago being bad enough for them to matter.

    Trading Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier but keeping Vucevic would also have been an intriguing prospect. He would have had the chance to play with Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, this year’s draft pick and the other younger guys on the roster next season and it would have been fun to see how that worked out.

    There was, however, the danger that it would have kept the team semi-competitive with not enough talent around him to make a real push in the postseason.

    We will never know the answer, but at least with a total reset the team knows where it stands. Development has taken priority over winning.