The Orlando Magic are trading All-Star Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls for Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. and two future first-round picks, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. After weeks of speculation, Orlando pulls off a trade sending its best player to Chicago in exchange for a young big man in Carter, and future draft compensation.
This is a trade that should come as a complete shock, considering that of all the Orlando players being discussed as trade candidates over the past few weeks, like Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, Vucevic wasn't considered as someone who would be moved. But moving the franchise's best player may be a sign of what's to come for the rest of the day for Orlando, as well as the future of the Magic.
With Vucevic now on a different team, it becomes increasingly likely that Gordon gets dealt before the deadline today as well, per Wojnarowski. It may become a feeding frenzy on Orlando's roster, who also have guys like Terrance Ross and Fournier who could make an impact on other contending teams.
For Chicago, this is a splashy move that certainly moves the needle on making a push toward the postseason this year. The Bulls may not be done yet today either, as they're reportedly still in the mix to trade for Lonzo Ball. If Chicago is able to pull that off today, they would certainly be the early favorites as one of the winners of the trade deadline.
Here's a look at the trade grades for this surprising transaction.
- Two future first-round picks
Bulls trade grade: A
It cannot be overstated how much offensive firepower Vucevic brings to the Bulls. He's one of only four players this season averaging 24 points and 10 boards a game -- the other three are all MVP contenders (Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid). The pick-and-pop game between him and Zach LaVine is going to be a dream come true for the Bulls, and are probably hoping to stagger some of their minutes together so that when LaVine goes to the bench its offense doesn't become stagnant as its been prone to do.
Chicago is under pressure to win now. LaVine will be entering the final year of his deal next season, and would surely command attention from several teams in the league. Adding another All-Star to this roster gives LaVine some reason to stay, especially if this team makes the playoffs this year. Giving up Carter, who has a lengthy injury history, Porter and two first-round picks to keep the star player of the team happy is an incredibly small price to pay on a journey toward making the postseason.
Magic trade grade: B-
I'm actually surprised the Magic couldn't get a better deal out of the Bulls or any other team in the league for a two-time All-Star who is putting up career numbers. That's not to shade Carter, but Vucevic has been criminally underrated the past few seasons, and even though he's 30 years old right now, he could've made a sizable impact on a contending team like Boston or Portland. Getting two first-round picks is a bonus, and perhaps a change in scenery -- and weather -- will positively impact Carter's career going forward. He'll be given tons of opportunity down in Orlando on a team that has made it clear that its entering rebuild mode, and he has shown flashes of being an impactful player on both ends of the floor.
We'll have to wait a season or two before we can get an accurate read on this trade for Orlando, because if Carter transforms into a dominant forward, then it will have been buy-low moment for them. If not, then at least they have the draft compensation to make up for it.