While many people expected the Boston Celtics to be making big moves for either Nerlens Noel and the Philadelphia 76ers or Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls during the 2016 NBA Draft, no one really expected the Oklahoma City Thunder to trade star big man Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic.
Here is how the trade went down:
Oklahoma City Receives Orlando Receives
#11 Pick in the NBA Draft (Domantas Sabonis) Serge Ibaka
Oklahoma City Thunder B+
With a week away from free agency, Kevin Durant will soon become the most coveted unrestricted free agent since LeBron James two years ago. The Oklahoma City Thunder, the only franchise Durant has ever played for (both in Oklahoma City as the Thunder and in Seattle as the Supersonics), has always put a talented roster around both him and Russell Westbrook and tonight's move is just another indicator of adding to that talent pool with Oladipo, Sabonis and Ilyasova.
The past week or so the Thunder gauged Serge Ibaka's trade value around the NBA and found a suitable trade partner in the Orlando Magic. The past season Ibaka has been verbal about his lack of touches in Oklahoma City and also has shared that this has been the most difficult season of his NBA career. With Ibaka becoming an unrestricted free agent after next season, the Thunder decided to pull the trigger and gain some talent and depth in the event they lost Ibaka to free agency.
While Ibaka's shot blocking and defense will be missed, Oklahoma City may have finally found the answer they have been looking for at two-guard with Victor Oladipo, a former #2 overall pick back in 2013. With Oladipo, Oklahoma City gets a solid defensive player that can also relieve some of the ball handling duties from both Westbrook and Durant. Trading for Oladipo also gives the Thunder an option in the event Dion Waiters, an unrestricted free agent, signs an offer sheet that the Thunder do not want to match. Also, a fast break led by Durant and Westbrook became even more incredible when adding speedster Oladipo. Here is one of the best dunks of his career on three-time NBA Champion LeBron James:
Video Courtesy of NBA
With Sabonis, Oklahoma City adds a young, physical power forward to the rotation who can use his solid playmaking and scoring abilities to find a niche with the Thunder. Sabonis will need time to properly develop since he is just a rookie but look for him to have an eventual impact in the Oklahoma City rotation as he develops off the bench or with the Oklahoma City Blue and passing Nick Collison and Mitch McGary on the depth chart.
With Ilyasova, the Thunder get a PF who will stretch the floor as a three-point specialist which will allow player such as Durant, Westbrook and Oladipo much more spacing to attack the rim with and create even more problems for opposing teams on the defensive side of things.
After the trade, here is what Oklahoma City's depth chart will look:
Obviously Oklahoma City cannot have 17 players on their active roster so look for players like Kyle Singler and Josh Huestis to be cut from the roster. Also, Hashtag Basketball's Ben Winks is hoping his Cavaliers can land Anthony Morrow so a possible trade could work out between both clubs. Expect big changes in Oklahoma City this upcoming season as they hope to bring back superstar forward Kevin Durant and make a run at the NBA Finals.
Orlando Magic D
While Oklahoma City was one of the biggest winners of the night of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic was one of the biggest losers.
After spending so much time patiently drafting and developing talent, Orlando had itself a promising young core with players such as Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. The Magic looked to take things to the next level last season with hiring Scott Skiles but the experiment fell flat with many players stunting their development, especially Aaron Gordon, who did not see much growth until Orlando shipped off Tobias Harris to the Detroit Pistons. Because of Gordon, getting Ibaka does not make much sense as the high-flying NBA slam dunk champion will now have to fight for playing minutes under new Magic head coach Frank Vogel behind both Ibaka and Vucevic.
Ultimately what Orlando did need was a veteran small forward that would help propel the team into the Eastern Conference playoffs. But instead they got yet another big man, stunted the development of a promising young talent in Aaron Gordon and lost a talented scoring wing in Victor Oladipo. Only time will tell what will come out of the trade for Orlando but so far things are looking very grim.