"LeBron talked to me after the game. He said, 'Good job, big guy.' When LeBron says it, it means something," Vucevic said.
James can't help but notice: Vucevic has averaged 22.5 points and 25.0 rebounds in two close losses to Miami.
Add LeBron and the Heat to the list of Vooch admirers this season. Miami talked of trying to trade for him last summer.
An interesting thing has happened to the Magic en route to clearing salary-cap room for free agents: They'll need to factor into the budget a large payday for Vooch.
The franchise viewed Ryan Anderson and J.J. Redick as expendable role players. The Magic did not want to break the bank for them at this stage of their rebuild, although the decisions could haunt them.
Vucevic is a totally different case.
He's a promising starting center with an eye-popping future and — like a left-handed pitcher — a rare commodity in the NBA. Centers like that make a mint.
If the Magic hadn't anticipated on paying Vooch a big-time contract — he was a relative unknown quantity in the Dwight Howard deal — they do now. They need to keep him, considering they would be filling one of the toughest positions to fill on their way back to relevancy.
Unless the Magic include him in a trade for a legitimate superstar, there's no reason to part ways with him.
The Magic can offer him a contract extension after next season, his third in the league. They extended Howard after his third season to the tune of five years and $83million in the summer of 2007.
Vooch is no Dwight.
Then again, he's just 22 and has only about one and a half seasons of NBA play under his belt. He does have the potential to be a star if he improves, especially defensively, and shows more consistency. He might even become a maximum-salary player at some point.
What he is now is the best bargain in town — if not in the entire NBA.
Vooch is still playing on his rookie contract he originally signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, making $1.7 million this season and $1.8 million next season. Yeah, he's going to get a slight bump.
He could command at least $10million a year in the open market today.
This season, Chicago center Joakim Noah is making $11.3 million, L.A. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is at $10.5 million and Denver's JaVale McGee is at $10 million. They all have their warts. Vooch is at least in their class.
Vucevic can become an unrestricted free agent after his fourth season. If Anderson received a four-year, $36 million offer from New Orleans as an unrestricted, the Magic could be looking at matching even more than $9 million for Vucevic.
He's on every team's radar now. He's the best thing to come out of the Howard misery.
The sweet of the bittersweet irony for the Magic and their fans is that the franchise found its center of the future by trading its center of the past.