Magic man: Vucevic sees long-term future in Orlando

Pelicans star Anthony Davis and Magic center Nikola Mirotic are two names making rounds at the trade deadline.

Nikola Vucevic likes his situation with the Orlando Magic and toward that end, can see a long-term future with the organization.

Speaking with Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, Vucevic, who has one year left on his contract that will pay him $12.75 million in the 2018-19 season, said he would like to see the Magic progress, but has faith they are headed in a positive direction.

“I believe we aren’t too far away and we can compete very soon,” Vucevic said. “When you win in this league, that’s the best feeling. So that’s what is most important to me. I do believe we can get there, though.”

The seven-year veteran big man recently had dinner with new Magic head coach Steve Clifford and came away impressed with the former coach of the Charlotte Hornets, fired after this season ended.

“You can tell he knows the game really well. He’s really creative,” Vucevic said of Clifford. “He’s going to do a really good job of putting our guys in positions to be successful and making us better. Everything we talked about throughout our conversation was very positive.”

He averaged 16.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.1 blocked shots in 29.5 minutes in 57 games this season, shooting 47.5 percent from the field.

The 7-foot Vucevic is looking to expand his game even more than he did this season from the 3-point line. This season, he averaged 3.6 attempts per game from three, making good on 31.4 percent of those shots.

“This is something that I’ve wanted to add to my game to help our team get better, so I think that’s going to be the biggest thing for me this summer. I’ll continue to focus on that,” Vucevic said. “I’ll also be playing with my national team, and I’ll continue to work on that while I’m with them.”

Vucevic is impressed with the improvement made by his frontcourt mate, the high-flying Aaron Gordon.

“He works as hard as any guy on our team – if not harder,” Vucevic said. “He’s always showing up early and staying late. … Some people may think he’s just a freak athlete, but they don’t realize how much work he has put in to improve the way he has year after year, especially this past season.”