Vucevic: Not playing in the playoffs wasn't easy

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Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) of Montenegro walks down court against the Utah Jazz during an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz)

For former 76ers center Nik Vucevic, there are no hard feelings regarding his trade last summer from the Sixers to the Orlando Magic, the Sixers’ opponent Monday evening at Wells Fargo Center.

Vucevic was completely ok with the trade that shipped him along with rookie Maurice Harkless to Orlando in the deal that brought the Sixers Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson from Orlando last August.

However, he did indicate that not being used in the playoffs last season – Vucevic appeared in just three minutes during the Sixers’ 13-game playoff run last spring -  irked him a little bit.

“That wasn’t easy,” Vucevic, averaging 12.1 points and a team-high 11.3 rebounds (fourth in the league) in 47 starts for the Magic, said. “I wanted to play; I wanted to be out there and get a chance to play in the playoffs.  As a competitor I don’t think anybody enjoys sitting on the bench.

Will the 76ers be a playoff team?

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“But I didn’t take it personally,” Vucevic said. “I just used it as motivation to get better and prove myself. I wish I had played. But the plan is eventually get to the playoffs. I will get more chances.”

Harkless will bear watching tonight as well. Remember how high the Sixers were on Harkless when they drafted him? He’ll be in the starting lineup tonight. The 19-year-old rookie is coming off a 19-point, 14-rebound effort against Milwaukee.

“He’s starting to get comfortable,” Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said of Harkless, selected by the Sixers with the 15th pick in last summer’s draft. “They are both trying to make the most of their opportunities.  I think with Nik, he saw this as an opportunity to succeed or fail. He’s chosen to succeed.

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