The minute NBA free agency opens — at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday this year — there is always a rush of contracts that get announced. Deals that were agreed to, but the calendar had to flip over to the new NBA year. (Tampering? What tampering?)
All-Star center Nikola Vucevic returning to the Orlando Magic will be one of those contracts this year.
We’d heard before the deal was basically done, but here is a second report that it is and will be signed quickly when free agency opens.
The difference between the initially reported four years, $90 million, and the new $100 million figure could be simply in who is doing the telling. Agents always put incentives, likely to be reached or not, in the totals they leak because it makes them look better. We don’t know the structure of this contract yet, such as is the fourth year fully guaranteed.
Sacramento and Boston were among the teams expressing interest in Vucevic. He averaged 20.8 and 12 rebounds a game last season, shooting 36.4 percent from three, and he was the highest rated center last season using ESPN’s Real plus/minus.
Orlando drafted Mo Bamba as its center of the future last year, but his first year in the league showed just how raw and far away he is from reaching that potential (if he can reach it at all, there are doubts). Keeping Vucevic helps Orlando — which won 42 games and made the playoffs last season — stay good while waiting to see how Bamba develops. This is a team with talent on the roster, such as Aaron Gordon and young Jonathan Isaac. If Orlando can upgrade at the point guard position, and their players improve, this team takes a step forward next season.