HOUSTON – There were no lies or whispers through back channels.

It was sit-down, eye-to-eye conversations and dialogue.

More than Nikola Vucevic could have even asked for.

That’s why Orlando and the Magic will always hold a special place in his heart. Not only did the city and organization raise him, but when it was time to leave the nest it was on his terms in a business where players are often treated more like commodities rather than family.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a situation where they traded me out of nowhere,’’ Vucevic said of the deal that sent him from the only NBA home he really knew to the Bulls last season. “It was something that we discussed a lot and it was mutually agreed. It wasn’t a situation where they told me I wasn’t going to get traded, and then I get traded. A lot of it came from my communication with them, so it wasn’t a surprise for me.

“Never will I ever have any bad feelings toward Orlando. It will always be positive. It was time for the team to go in a different direction. It was time for something new to happen. It wasn’t working the way we wanted it, and I think it worked out for both parties in the end.’’

After spending nine seasons there it did.

With the trade deadline ticking down last March, the Bulls sent Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two first-round picks to the Magic for the All-Star center and Al-Farouq Aminu. A steep price, but one the Bulls were willing to roll the dice on with the bigger picture in mind.

Yes, they were adding a talented, versatile five to the mix, but it was also about making the Bulls more of a destination place. It wasn’t just the Zach LaVine Show as a selling point. It was LaVine and Vucevic. More importantly, it was the message that this front office will be aggressive now and moving forward in attempting to build a championship.

Alex Caruso, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, they each said very similar things when they were introduced as new Bulls in the summer. Playing alongside LaVine and Vucevic were keys for them.

“I thought it was huge, and for a couple reasons,’’ coach Billy Donovan said of the Vucevic acquisition as a starting point for this new-look roster. “One, he’s a really, really good player, and an even better guy. And I think when guys start to come in to play with other players and they look at the personnel. I think what ends up happening is, who wouldn’t want to play with a guy like Vooch?

“Because believe it or not he’s a pass-first guy. He’s a facilitating big. You know if you move and cut he’s going to get it to you. He’s going to throw the ball out of the low-post. He makes it a little bit easier where you always have an outlet because you can throw it back to him, he can shoot it, or he can get it to the next side. … If you’re Alex or DeMar you’re looking at it like, ‘I would like to play with a guy like this.’ ‘’

As for Vucevic, Friday will be his first return to Orlando since the deal. His entire family was coming in for the game, and he knows it will be an emotional reunion.

“It’s definitely going to be a tough game for me I think emotionally,’’ Vucevic said. “To see all the people that I built a great relationship with all those years, some of my ex-teammates as well. It will be great to be back there for sure.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of emotion that I have to control as the game goes on.’’

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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