After all the pre-draft noise regarding potential blockbuster trades centered around Jimmy Butler, Oklahoma City moved first and flipped Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and the freshly-drafted Domantas Sabonis. Woj broke the news:
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reached agreement on a trade to send forward Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis, league sources told The Vertical.
Given Ibaka’s regression this past season, this trade seems like a great move for the Thunder. They’ve struggled to find a shooting guard who could both play defense and handle the ball, and Oladipo is better than Dion Waiters or Kyle Singler. Ilyasova will give them another shooter off the bench, and while Sabonis is an unknown, he was a very smart college player, and he seems like the type of player who can play right away. If Cameron Payne improves and Sabonis can give them something, they’ll be much deeper next year.
This trade makes less for the Magic, who already have their power forward of the future. Aaron Gordon could conceivably play alongside Ibaka, but the Magic needed more help on the wings, not another big man. Ibaka’s three-point ability and shot blocking prowess mean he can play next to basically any big man, but the Magic don’t have that much to gain by improving their front line. Getting Oladipo out of the fold means Evan Fournier and Mario Hezonja will have larger roles next year, but trading for Ibaka is a win-now move, especially since he’s a free agent after next season. I don’t know if this roster is ready to win now.
Of course, they did get the best player in the trade and Frank Vogel is a wizard of a defensive coach. If he can get Ibaka engaged again and let Elfrid Payton loose, they could be a terrifying defensive team next year. But they gave up a lot to get their guy, and the Thunder certainly look like they’re set up better going forward.