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Report: Celtics trading up for USC’s Nikola Vucevic?

When we profiled University of Southern California center Nikola Vucevic [1] as a potential Celtics NBA draft target two weeks ago, the 7-foot European was expected to be around when Danny Ainge and company picked at No. 25. Now, if the C’s want Vucevic, they may have to move up to select him, and one report indicated they may be willing to do just that.

Here’s the relevant nugget of the story from the Daily News in Los Angeles, where Vucevic played three seasons under USC head coach Kevin O’Neill:

NBA personnel said this week Vucevic will probably be drafted somewhere between the No. 9 and No. 17 picks, which makes it seem silly there were doubts he would turn pro a few months ago.

“He’s moved up drastically during his workouts,” said an NBA general manager who did not wish to be identified. “A lot of teams like him now.”

The Knicks are believed to be highly interested, along with the Houston Rockets [2]. The Boston Celtics [3] are even interested in trading up in order to select Vucevic, according to sources.

In Chad Ford’s latest mock draft [4] on ESPN.com, Vucevic is slotted to go to the Bobcats with the 19th pick, and the Celtics are projected to select¬†Jeremy Tyler at No. 25. Ford’s analysis:

The Celtics are going to start rebuilding soon, and they need to hit a home run again the same way they did with Rajon Rondo [5]. Tyler could be that guy. If he had played in college, he might have had a chance to be a top-10 pick with his talent.

He’s long, athletic and raw, but if he succeeds, he could be a major pickup for the Celtics. JaJuan Johnson [6], Tyler Honeycutt, Justin Harper and Jon Leuer are also possibilities.

We’ve profiled all of those guys in this space. Click on their names to see their draft profile: Tyler [7], Johnson [8],¬†Honeycutt [9], Harper [10] and Leuer [11].