2019 Free Agency
Report: Nikola Vucevic agrees to max deal with Magic
From NBA media reports
Orlando Magic big man Nikola Vucevic has agreed to stay with the team he’s known most of his career.
Vucevic has agreed to a four-year, $100 million deal to stay with the Magic, Vucevic’s agent, Bill Duffy, told ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
Vucevic was the key piece in Orlando’s summer as the Magic have nine free agents in total. He was an All-Star in 2018-19, putting up career-bests in points (20.8), rebounds (12.0) and assists (3.8) per game. Aside from a rookie season spent with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2011-12, Vucevic has been with the Magic ever since, arriving in the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade in 2012.
Vucevic suffered through six seasons of struggles and rebuilding as the Magic endured five 50-loss seasons, four coaching changes and a front-office switch two seasons ago. However, Orlando went 22-9 down the stretch last season — the NBA’s third-best record after Jan. 31 — and Vucevic was a big part of that surge toward the playoffs by being a key cog in the offense and an improved defender.
Despite a solid regular season, Vucevic struggled in the playoffs (which was Orlando’s first postseason appearance since 2012).
In five playoff games, Vucevic tallied just 11.2 points a game while hitting only 36.2 percent of his shots and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. He had just one double-double (22 points and 14 rebounds in a Game 3 loss) and he closed the series with a foul-plagued six-point, seven-rebound effort in Game 5 when the Magic were eliminated.
“I’ll have to re-watch the games, study them and really see, but right now I feel like in certain moments, I was overthinking stuff a little bit,” Vucevic said at season’s end. “The help and the double teams that they were throwing at me, it was a little different than I had seen before, and I was rushing a little bit. I just never established a rhythm to play. They threw me off my game a little bit and I never was able to figure it out the way that I wanted to. At the same time, it was the first time I was in that position and I think it will be great experience for me to learn from. The next time I’m in that situation, I’ll do better.”
In a pure numbers sense, Vucevic is one of the top players in Magic history, ranking second in rebounding, fifth in scoring, fourth in blocks, ninth in assists and seventh in steals. Orlando’s front office was a big fan of bringing him back for another contract, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said at season’s end.
“Bringing Vooch back is a priority, but with that being said Vooch is going to have a lot of teams that will make him a priority for them, too,” Weltman said. “We’ll meet with his representatives at the appropriate time. … Hopefully we can get something done. It’s the NBA and as I always say, `There’s a lot of real estate between the intentions and what gets done,’ but yeah, it is a priority.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.