Report: Celtics among teams to express ‘significant interest' in Vucevic trade


The Boston Celtics are among the teams to watch as the March 25 NBA trade deadline approaches, and one player on their radar reportedly is Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic.

According to Kevin O'Connor at The Ringer, "The Heat, Spurs, Celtics, and Hornets have all expressed significant interest in acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, league sources say."

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O'Connor also noted that some front office executives are "skeptical that the Magic will end up pulling the trigger on a deal ... given that Vucevic has two more seasons left on his contract; if they do, the price would be high."

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last month that "shooting with size" was a need for the team to address before the trade deadline.

Vucevic certainly fits that description.

The veteran center is averaging a career-high 24.6 points along with 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game this season. He's also shooting 41.2 percent on 6.5 3-point shot attempts per game. The 30-year-old big man is listed at 6-foot-11 and 260 pounds, so he'd bring plenty of size and strength to the frontcourt.

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Vucevic isn't a top-tier defender, but his consistent scoring and outside shooting would address a pair of significant needs for the Celtics.

The Magic star's $26 million salary would fit inside the trade exception the Celtics created as part of the Gordon Hayward deal with the Charlotte Hornets last offseason. However, acquiring Vucevic would force the Celtics to give up valuable trade assets, as O'Connor alluded to above. 

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Vucevic is not a rental, though. His contract has two more years remaining at descending money. When you factor his contract status, talent and age, giving up a significant haul for Vucevic makes a lot of sense for the Celtics. He's a two-time All-Star (including this season) who should have several impressive seasons left in him.

A lineup of Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Vucevic would be one of the toughest for opposing teams to slow down. That five-man rotation is loaded with offensive firepower. 

Whether it's Vucevic, Harrison Barnes or someone else, the Celtics need to make an upgrade to their roster before the trade deadline and give their two All-Stars -- Tatum and Brown -- some more help for the playoffs.

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