The Orlando Magic are making moves, gathering assets and unloading their superstar in hopes of rebuilding for the future. In a rather surprising move on Thursday, the Magic sent All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and journeyman Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks. The Bulls will now pair Vuc with their own All-Star, Zach LaVine and they should become one of the most dangerous guard-center combos in the East.
The Bulls recently promoted Tomas Satoransky to point guard and are bringing Coby White off the bench, starting power forward Lauri Markkanen still has a chance to get traded before the day is done, and Vuc is a big-time upgrade over quasi-center Thaddeus Young. And with a foundation of Vuc and LaVine, the Bulls just got a whole lot better. Thankfully, Vuc’s fantasy value should remain intact and he is probably going to love playing with LaVine, and vice versa. Vuc is having a career year, averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists, a steal, 0.6 blocks and 2.7 3-pointers, and while it may take him a minute or two to figure out how to play with his new teammates, the Bulls didn’t acquire him to be an afterthought. I doubt he’ll lose much, if any, fantasy value as a Bull and I even think he might start blocking a shot per game. The Bulls also added Troy Brown Jr. and Mo Wagner from the Wizards, further deepening their lineup.
As for the Magic, they’re also moved Evan Fournier (Boston) and Aaron Gordon (Denver), gathering as many assets as they can, waiting for Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, who are under long-term contracts, and hoping to build something Magic fans can be proud of.
Fournier was sent to the Celtics for two second-round picks giving the Celtics some much-needed outside scoring and it will be interesting to see how Fournier, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart all co-exist. Brad Stevens isn’t scared of hurting anyone’s feelings and has had the tendency to be a bit frustrating from a fantasy perspective over the years, so I’m guessing Fournier takes a hit, especially coming from Orlando, where he was a focal point of the offense, to Boston, where he could be the fourth or fifth option.
Gordon is now a Nugget in a trade that sent Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and a first-round pick to the Magic. Gordon’s arrival should crush any fantasy value Paul Millsap was still hanging onto and it should be fun watching the Nuggets roll a front line of Michael Porter Jr., Gordon and Nikola Jokic out there every night. I doubt Gordon hurts MPJ’s value and a change of scenery could do wonders for Gordon, who has basically be a fantasy disappointment outside of a hot run he made in the second half of last season. And with Harris out of the way, Will Barton, Monte Morris and Facundo Campazzo’s roles are all safe, although we’ve only seen Harris make one brief appearance since January, so the Nuggets may not even realize he’s gone.