In the trade, the Orlando Magic received Oklahoma City Thunder PF Serge Ibaka in exchange for SG Victor Oladipo, PF Ersan Ilyasova, and the 11th pick of this year’s draft Domantas Sabonis. The trade makes sense for both teams as far as where they would like to go next season as each team fills a need. However, one team is the clear winner over the other from this deal.
What This Means For The Magic
It’s very clear that upon agreeing on this trade, the Magic were looking for a rim protector. The Magic have not been good defensively at protecting the rim since Dwight Howard was manning the paint from 2004 to 2012. Nikola Vucevic, while a very talented offensive player and rebounder, is not a very good shot blocker or rim protector. Serge Ibaka, on the other hand, has been one of the best shot blockers in the league over the past several years, averaging 2.5 blocks per game for his career and leading the league in 2011-12 and 2012-13. However, his blocks per game dropped to under two per game last season for the first time since his rookie year. The Thunder had also witnessed a seismic shift in Ibaka’s game over the past couple seasons. Ibaka has gone from an athletic, shot blocking big man to basically just a jump shooter. Nonetheless, the Magic are likely hoping Ibaka will provide them with a shot blocking presence they haven’t had in four years and he should help improve the team’s defense under new coach Frank Vogel. However, giving up both Oladipo and Ilyasova for an Ibaka who can possibly walk in free agency next summer may have been a bit too big of a risk to take.
What This Means For The Thunder
This trade was clearly done by the Thunder is order to improve their team in order to make it more attractive and appeal to their soon-to-be free agent Kevin Durant. I find the Thunder to be the big winner in this trade. Next season, Billy Donovan can choose to go with a starting frontcourt of the returning Steven Adams and Enes Kanter or go with Kanter and the newly acquired Ilyasova. Kanter provides post scoring, while Ilyasova stretches the floor better and more consistently than Ibaka did. Either way, the big man rotation for OKC does not lose their depth. As for the acquisition of Oladipo, that was the greatest part of this trade for OKC. Since trading James Harden prior to the 2012-13 season, they have had some trouble finding a guard who can do the variety of things Harden was able to do for them on both ends of the court. Victor Oladipo gives them a dynamic guard that can score, pass, and defend at a level that very few young guards in the league can. He also gives the Thunder a very solid plan if another team overpays for pending restricted free agent Dion Waiters. As for Sabonis, he may not play a ton of minutes as a rookie, but he is a highly skilled player with very high upside who may help the Thunder down the road.
In the end, I find the Thunder to be the bigger beneficiary of this trade. If for no other reason, the addition of Oladipo in particular would make the possibility of Durant heading elsewhere in free agency sting a bit less. However, a lineup with Russell Westbrook, Waiters, and Durant would be an absolute nightmare for the rest of the league to both defend and be defended by. As for the Magic, they received one of the better rim protectors in the league, which is something they desperately needed. However, the costs of acquiring Ibaka may have possibly been a bit too much. Only time will tell.
Spark Sports NBA Analyst