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Trading Nikola Vucevic from the Magic is the gift that keeps on giving

Big man Nikola Vucevic spent most of his career with the Orlando Magic, playing for the franchise from 2012 to 2021. During that time, the Magic made it to the postseason twice. Both trips ended quickly as they lost two first-round series in just five games.

However, in 2021, the Magic finally decided to part ways with their leading scorer. At the trade deadline, they sent him and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter and two first-round picks.

This trade didn't work out particularly well for the Bulls. Since 2021, they have only managed to reach the postseason once with their big three of Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. They were mediocre at best, and when they tried to trade LaVine early in the regular season, they couldn't get a deal done.

However, the trade was a home run for the Magic, and there is still success to be had.

When the deal was first made, the Magic were excited to add Wendell Carter Jr. to the roster and he has been solid since coming to Orlando. His performance may have declined since he joined the team, but he was still a big part of this team's success and identity. With the emergence of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, things have changed and Carter is just trying to play his part.

While getting Carter Jr. included in this deal was a solid return, the real jackpot was the two first-round picks the Bulls wanted to send away. Those picks became Franz Wagner and Jett Howard.

Howard didn't contribute much to the Magic's success in his rookie season, but he's a promising young player that they can develop well. He spent most of his time with the Magic's G League affiliate this season, averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29 games.

Wagner, on the other hand, is a big part of the Magic's present and future. A talented 6'3″ two-way player on the wing, he looks to be a great co-star for Paolo Banchero. Considering they're only in their third and second seasons in the league, they have plenty of All-Star selections and playoff runs ahead of them.

If there was any doubt about the value of this pick the Bulls gave up, it was eliminated in the playoffs. The Magic entered the playoffs as underdogs and the first two games of the series were tough. After that, however, the young Magic team found its rhythm and Wagner played a big part in that. Without his 34- and 26-point performances in Game 4 and Game 6, Orlando would not have been able to tie the series twice.

Remember, Wagner is doing all this at the age of 22. He's only going to get better in the future, and that idea should hurt Bulls fans. Not only do they have to deal with this up-and-coming Magic team in the East, but their front office gave Orlando this pick.

After three years, it's safe to say the Magic won this trade and are still benefiting from it.

Anna Harden

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