Click here for link to Oklahoma City Thunder Trade Grades
Magic get: PF/C Serge Ibaka
Thunder get: SG Victor Oladipo, SF/PF Ersan Ilyasova, #11 overall pick (PF Domantas Sabonis)
I just don’t get it. Six months ago, you look at Orlando’s core of PG Elfrid Payton, SG Victor Oladipo, SF/SG Mario Hezonja, PF/SF Tobias Harris, PF Aaron Gordon, C/PF Nikola Vucevic and more, and think ‘Wow, what a talented group of youngsters loaded with potential. Orlando just keeps them around, stays on course, and by the time these guys develop in a few years, they’ll be title contenders for sure.’ Oops. While much of this group still remains, Harris was traded away to Detroit for a couple of veterans on expiring contracts, and Oladipo was dealt to OKC for -- a veteran on an expiring contract. Two integral pieces of the Magic’s future -- gone. And what does Orlando have to show for it? Brandon Jennings walking away this summer, and Serge Ibaka.
Now, obviously, Ibaka’s not a bad player. Far from it. In fact, his skills as an elite rim protector and ability to knock down mid-rangers and three-pointers fit in perfectly next to Vucevic’s post-up mindset. He could very well help propel the team into the playoffs this upcoming season. My concerns with him lie financially. His $12.25 million contract is indeed a steal, but it’s expiring after this season, and Ibaka will likely demand a payday. Either the Magic fork over that could be a max offer sheet, or Ibaka walks and ends up to be a one-year rental, which could very well happen whether or not Orlando is willing to pay up for the big man.
I’m not sure I have to stress the losses for the Magic here any more than I already have. Oladipo was developing into a fine all-around player, scoring 16 points on 43.8% shooting from the field and 34.8% from downtown, while adding 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. Losing the former number two overall pick hurts the most, but the loss of number nine pick Domantas Sabonis is not to be understated -- Sabonis, as well as Ilyasova in fact, were well able to fill one of Ibaka’s main roles as to be able to create space for Vucevic in the frontcourt with a long-distance jumper. While Ibaka helps in the short-term, it’s very difficult to justify losing two top-ten picks and a solid veteran for someone that you don’t know what to do with beyond this season.