CHICAGO (CBS/AP)- The Bulls wasted no time on trade deadline day making the first big splash of the day acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Faroq Aminu from the Orlando Magic. The Bulls are said to be sending forwards Otto Porter and Wendell Carter along with 2021 and 2023 first round picks to the Magic in the deal.
Currently just a game and a half back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Bulls are clearly looking to make a push for the postseason. The 30-year-old Vucevic is averaging 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game this season in 44 games as a starter with Orlando.
Originally a first round pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2011 NBA Draft, Vucevic has spent the last nine seasons in Orlando after landing there as part of the trade that sent Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. In the last three seasons, Vucevic has blossomed into one of the game's best centers making his first All-Star team in 2018-19 when he eclipsed 20 points per game for the first time.
He's added more range to his game over the past five seasons increasing from one three point attempt per game to 6.5 this season all while increasing his shooting percentage from beyond the arc from 30.7 to 40.6, a career-high, this season.
Porter has played just 25 games this season and is averaging just 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Carter, the team's former 7th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is averaging 10.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game across 32 games, 25 starts for the team this season.
The Bulls remained busy after the Vucevic trade, completing a three-team trade with Boston and Washington.
They dealt forward Chandler Hutchison and forward/center Daniel Gafford to the Wizards and center Luke Kornet to the Celtics. The Bulls got forward Troy Brown Jr. from Washington, as well as center Daniel Theis and guard Javonte Green from Boston.
One big question going forward is at point guard. Coby White has shown some promise in his two seasons, but lost his starting job to Tomas Satoransky.
"We're satisfied right now (with) who we have," Karnisovas said. "Those guys have been playing pretty well. The last couple games the guys were a little uptight. I can feel that, emotionally, leading to the trade deadline. I think getting another additional facilitator on offense like Nikola is gonna make guard play much easier."
Lauri Markkanen's future is also up in the air. The 7-footer from Finland has an expiring contract after he and the team were unable to agree to an extension prior to the season.
But on Thursday, the Bulls made a big and bold statement.
"Our opportunity today was great," Karnisovas said. "We improved our team today."
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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