Nikola Vucevic Delivers Strong Take on Celtics’ Swingman

Nikola Vucevic on Evan Fournier

Getty Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Brooklyn Nets.

Evan Fournier has been unable to get his feet up under him since arriving in Beantown. Acquired at last month’s trade deadline, an extended stint in the NBA COVID protocol has limited the sharpshooter to just four games as a member of the Boston Celtics.

While the jury may still be out on Fournier’s ultimate fit in Boston, his former Orlando Magic teammate Nikola Vucevic is here to reassure Celtics fans that they got themselves a good one.

“He (Fournier) does show a lot of emotions on the court, which I think Celtics fans will love about him,” Vucevic said, via The Athletic’s Jay King. “He plays hard, he competes. He’s a guy that will play through injuries. He’ll never make excuses. If he doesn’t do well, he’ll admit it himself. If he plays well, he won’t try to take too much credit, he’ll stay humble. He’s just going to do whatever the team asks him to do. He’s somebody who competes hard, I think the Celtics fans will really enjoy that about him. He’s a very hard-nosed player, his approach is kind of old-school, kind of grinding through everything. He doesn’t ask for rest or any of those things, so I think Celtics fans will appreciate a lot about him.”

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Vucevic is a Big Fan of Fournier’s Fit in Boston

Fournier wasn’t the only long-term Magic player exiled from Orlando this past month. Vucevic — who was readily floated as a potential Celtics target — was also dealt at the deadline, a telltale sign that the organization was blowing things up.

After nine seasons in Central Florida, Vucevic was dealt to the Chicago Bulls in a blockbuster four-player trade. Since arriving in the Windy City, the 7-foot center has been his typical All-Star caliber self, none more so than in his most recent outing against the Celtics. The 30-year-old helped snap Boston’s six-game win streak with a 29-point, nine-rebound performance in TD Garden on Monday night.

While COVID protocol ultimately stripped the big man of getting an up-close and personal look at his former long-time teammate in his new digs, Vucevic remains certain that Fournier’s skillset will fit like a glove alongside Boston’s current array of stars.

“I think it’s a very good fit for him,” Vucevic stated. “He’s going to play alongside some very good players: (Jayson) Tatum, (Jaylen) Brown, Kemba (Walker), Marcus Smart, all those guys who are there. And I think that it’s going to make his game easier, it’s going to open up a lot of things for him. I think it’s also going to help them. His shooting will open up a lot on the court for them. He’s just a good playmaker.”

Fournier Nearing a Return

Fournier has been held out of action since landing in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols on April 6th, missing a total of eight games along the way. An unfortunate turn of events for a player who looked to be finding his groove. After a horrendous 0-of-10 shooting debut as a Celtic, Fournier had scored 23 and 17 points during his most recent two games before entering protocol.

While the team has enjoyed a surge without Fournier at their disposal, there’s no denying that his shooting ability adds a sizeable boost to their lineup — especially when coming off the bench, as Boston owns the worst scoring second-unit in all of basketball.

The good news, Fournier looks close to making his much-awaited return to the hardwood, with the team holding out hope that he can be made available for game action come later this week.

“Evan has his final tests that you have to go through to come back and be cleared to be come back from a medical perspective in the next couple of days, and then I don’t know if he’ll be able to join us or not when we practice again on Wednesday,” Stevens said prior to Monday’s loss to the Bulls. “Even if that’s the case, I would say probably doubtful for Thursday, and limited beyond that. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play Friday or not. We’ll just see.”


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