Chicago Bulls land NBA All-Star Nikola Vucevic and multiple players via blockbuster trade

Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

By Joseph Phillips, Crusader Sports Editor

The Chicago Bulls made one of the biggest trades of the NBA season, trading players Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., and two future first-round picks to the Orlando Magic for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu on Thursday, March 25.

Vucevic (along with Aminu) made his debut in the team’s 120-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday, March 27, on the road. The 2021 NBA All-Star finished with a team-high 21 points, 9 rebounds and four assists on 9-of-16 shooting from the field in his Bulls debut.

“I can fit right in,” Vucevic said, about his versatile skill set and ability to shoot the ball while establishing a role with the team. “I came as a kid [with the Orlando Magic] and left as a man,” said Vucevic.

Vucevic, also known as ‘Vooch,’ completed his final season with Orlando averaging 24.5 points per game, 11.8 rebounds, 48 percent shooting from the field and draining 41 percent from behind the three-point arc. Bulls guard Zach LaVine said he was happy to hear the news.

“We got another big-time player here. For me personally, that’s something that’s really big and speaks volumes to me. That’s big because I want to win,” said Bulls guard Zach LaVine about the team’s latest trade.

In addition to LaVine’s comments, Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Arturas Karnisovas shared that the team started the process of acquiring Vucevic two weeks ago.

“Two weeks out, we did a lot of internal meetings to put down ideas on how we can make this team better,” said Karnisovas. “That was our main objective. Usually, you don’t get too many chances at All Star-level players, and we were fortunate to get it done.”

Karnisovas said the move to acquire Vucevic via trade will one day make Chicago an attractive destination for free agents again. “For us, we evaluated, had a sample size of more than 40 games so we made a couple of decisions on certain guys,” said Karnisovas. “We’re serious here about winning, we’re serious about a culture of being competitive.”


In addition to the Vucevic trade, Karnisovas and the Bulls acquired forward Troy Brown Jr. from the Washington Wizards, as well as center Daniel Theis (Tice) and guard Javonte Green from the Boston Celtics, and the Bulls sent forward Chandler Hutchison and forward/center Daniel Gafford to Washington and center Luke Kornet to Boston.

As part of the transaction, Chicago received cash considerations from Washington and Boston. According to a Chicago Bulls press release, Theis (6-8, 245) signed with the Celtics as a free agent in July 2017. In his four seasons in Boston, he averaged 7.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18.8 minutes per game while shooting .554 from the field, .345 from three and .740 from the free throw line. The German native has played in 42 games in 2020-21 (37 starts) and has posted 21 double-digit scoring games, including two with 20-plus points.

His 9.5 points per game average this season is a career high. Theis has three double-doubles on the season and led the Celtics in blocks 13 times. He has been to the postseason two times with averages of 6.8 points and 5.5 rebounds over 24 games (17 starts). Green (6-4, 205) signed with Boston as a free agent in July 2019. In two seasons with the Celtics, he averaged 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game.

This season, Green scored a season-high 10 points on January 15 vs. Orlando. He saw action in one playoff game for Boston in 2020 and scored three points. Brown (6-6, 215) was selected 15th overall out of Oregon by the Washington Wizards in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Las Vegas native has played in 142 career games (32 starts) for the Wizards and has career averages of 7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 19.7 minutes while shooting .426 from the field, .330 from three and .751 from the free throw line.

Hutchison was selected by Chicago with the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. In 79 career games (24 starts) with Chicago, he held averages of 5.8 points and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting .450 from the field, .297 from three and .602 from the free throw line. In his second season, Gafford owns career averages of 5.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 13.4 minutes while shooting .697 from the field and .584 from the free throw line.

He was the 35th overall selection by the Bulls in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Arkansas. Kornet signed with Chicago as a free agent on July 18, 2019. Originally signed by the New York Knicks as an undrafted free agent on July 3, 2017, Kornet has appeared in 115 career games (33 starts) and is averaging 6.1 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists in 15.3 minutes per game.

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