The NBA offseason has just begun, but there have been moves aplenty so far. Whether it’s Derrick Rose going to the Knicks or Jeff Teague going to the Pacers, the NBA trade season is off to a hot start.
Two more teams made a deal during Thursday night’s NBA draft. Around 7:47 central time, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Orlando Magic struck a deal that sent Serge Ibaka to the Magic in return for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rights to the 11th overall pick, Domantas Sabonis.
Oklahoma City has traded Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic, league sources told @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Orlando will send Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and rights to Sabonis to the Thunder, sources said.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Earlier in the day there were reports that the Thunder were shopping Ibaka. This felt like the Thunder were testing the waters but would ultimately not make a deal. However, General Manager for the Thunder, Sam Presti, should never be questioned when he is shopping a player because most of the time he finds a deal to make. He has not always had luck on his side in these deals (see James Harden) but there is no question that he and the entire Thunder organization continuously work to improve their team.
The trade came about after Presti felt that Ibaka would not resign following the 2017 season after becoming frustrated with his diminishing role. This opened the door for a trade. But what could they get for a seven year veteran that has been on the decline the past couple of seasons? The answer: A former second overall pick in Oladipo, a stretch four that gives the Thunder shooting, and the 11th overall pick in a draft that they started with no picks. I would consider that a good day at the office.
Now to what this means for both teams.
At first glance this trade does not make much sense for the Magic. But after looking at the details, this trade could help Orlando earn a playoff spot next season. The Magic will now have a rim protecting big that can guard on the perimeter and add some versatility to their offense. This will allow their wing players to take more chances on the defensive side knowing they have someone to protect the paint. The Magic still have a good, young core in place even after trading Oladipo. Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Mario Hezonja and Nikola Vucevic are the future of this team, and a veteran presence who has won most of his career like Ibaka will help this team continue to grow. It will be interesting to see where Ibaka’s offensive game goes without having to share the ball with those two dudes in OKC.
Now to the Thunder: Some say the Thunder robbed the Magic with this trade. While not a great move for the Magic; it was not a bad one either. They have a lot of young players and two shooting guards that will seemingly take over Oladipo’s role in Evan Fournier and Hezonja. The Thunder will now have to experience life without Ibaka, but the emergence of Steven Adams surely gave the Thunder the green light to make Ibaka expendable. The front court of the Thunder could now become the best in the league if Sabonis works out like many believe he will. That will give the Thunder even more size and strength down low. That is not something the other Western Conference teams want to hear. The Thunder gave the teams in the West everything they could handle last year and this trade should only make them better. Oladipo is a good defender with springs in his legs. His shooting will need to continue to improve but the Thunder may have finally found a suitable replacement for Harden four years later. While the trade was a bit surprising, I feel both teams will benefit from their acquisitions.
According to Thunder beat writer, Royce Young, the Thunder have been in love with Oladipo since he entered the 2013 NBA Draft and tried making a move up to get him that year. They were unsuccessful then but it might have been a blessing in disguise as they were able to acquire the athletic guard (and others) for one player.
One thing to keep in mind: This trade doesn’t happen without Steven Adams. His ability to guard the 4 and 5 makes it possible to move Ibaka.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) June 24, 2016
Now the only question that remains for the Thunder is – will Kevin Durant return to OKC to help push this team over the top? They seemingly have the pieces in place and are a great destination to return to knowing Presti will continue to make moves to bring a championship to the Sooner Bullfrog State.
Ibaka thanks the OKC fans on Instagram..
sergeibaka9: Time flies. 7 years in Oklahoma City, a place where I grew up, became the player I am today, competed with a great team and made great friends. A place I can call home. Thank you state of Oklahoma and your wonderful people. Thank you @okcthunder, staff, employees, teammates and fans. You will be in my heart forever.
And Oladipo does the same for Magic fans on Twitter…
I just wanna thank the Orlando Magic organization for a great three years. The entire city of Orlando, my teammates, the fans, and coaches that have taught me so much and I’m truly grateful. I’m so excited to be a Thunder!!! I’m ready to win BIG and play in front of the best fans in the world!!! #ThunderUp