Serge Ibaka to Orlando: The Thunder Stole From the Magic

A big trade sent Ibaka to Orlando in exchange for three players. How does it impact each team?

NBA trades during the draft usually draw most of the attention rather than the draft picks themselves.

Last night's deal between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Orlando Magic is doing just that.

What does it mean for each team?

Trade Pieces

The most notable piece in the trade is big man Serge Ibaka, who was drafted by Oklahoma City (technically the Seattle SuperSonics) in 2008. Ibaka is averaging 11.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game for his career. He has led the league in blocks four times and was a member of the first team NBA All-Defense three times.

He has been a cornerstone piece to the Thunder franchise for its entire existence, and when they could only afford one of Ibaka or James Harden, Harden was the one to leave town entering his final year under contract. Now it's Ibaka's turn to leave Oklahoma City just before his final year.

The reality is that Ibaka will require a lot of money next offseason -- and rightfully so. The six-year veteran may have tested free agency after next season anyways, and the Thunder would have gotten nothing in return. Ibaka's salary for next year is $12.2 million.

The next biggest piece in the trade is Victor Oladipo, who will be entering his fourth season in the league. The 24-year-old is a two-way player who will join a fairly crowded back court in Oklahoma City. He will be a restricted free agent after next season and will cost the Thunder $6.8 million next season.

Oladipo is an exciting guard who is averaging 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in his brief career. He also apparently has a good relationship with Kevin Durant, who is facing the temptations of free agency this offseason. Both players are from the Washington D.C. area, and Durant has reportedly mentored Oladipo a bit over the past few years.

Another piece that the Thunder received was Ersan Ilyasova. Ilyasova is a seasoned veteran who will be joining his fourth team in just over a calendar year.

The Thunder have a team option on Ilyasova, which they are planning on picking up, costing them $8.4 million. He will likely not be a key addition to the Thunder rotation, but he does help replace a bit of Ibaka's offensive firepower.

The final piece in the trade are the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis is a 20-year-old from Gonzaga University and averaged 17.6 points to go with 11.8 rebounds in his final season with the Bulldogs.

He is a 6'10" big man who has a great mid-range game. Like every rookie, it is too early to tell how his game will translate to the NBA. Either way, he will sign a relatively inexpensive rookie deal for Oklahoma City.

Roster Implications

Let's start with how the trade affects the Thunder roster.

Obviously, the big storyline this offseason is the decision of Durant. As stated above, Oladipo and Durant do have a history that could help entice Durant to come back to Oklahoma City.

The next biggest free agent implication is regarding Dion Waiters. Waiters is a restricted free agent, and while he has progressed nicely for the Thunder, the new addition of Oladipo limits the amount of money they can spend to match any other offer to retain Waiters.

Oklahoma City is apparently not opposed to resigning Waiters -- even with Oladipo, Andre Roberson, and Cameron Payne on the roster -- but they won't be able to match any large deals that teams may offer him.

Ilyasova is an intriguing addition because his role will likely be very limited. He can stretch the floor very well for a big man as he shot 41 percent from three last year and 37 percent for his career.

Sabonis is a bit of a more traditional big man compared to Ilyasova. Sabonis is a back-to-the-basket post player who can extend away from the basket with solid jump shot. The additions of both Ilyasova and Sabonis will help fill the 32 minutes per game that Ibaka was receiving.

For Orlando, the plan for next season is a bit clearer. The Magic just invested a lot into Ibaka, so he will likely play 30-plus minutes and become a key part of their offense. He will share the frontcourt with center Nikola Vucevic. Aaron Gordon is turning into a nice piece for the Magic as well and will will continue to grow behind Vucevic and Ibaka.

Losing Oladipo is a big loss for the Magic. However, they do already have Evan Fournier, Elfrid Payton, and Mario Hezonja running the backcourt. Oladipo seemed to be their best option but now one of the other guards will more opportunities without he and Brandon Jennings, who is now a free agent.

Losing out on Sabonis is the strangest part for the Magic. They may not have drafted Sabonis if the pick wasn't going to Oklahoma City, but there were still plenty of players available who could have helped the Magic improve on a 35-47 record last season.


After reviewing the trade, the motive of the Magic is still unclear. Ibaka can walk away after next season, and they will have lost Oladipo, Ilyasova, and the 11th pick in the draft for one year of Ibaka. If he doesn't walk away, they will likely have to re-sign him to a long-term deal that could easily be over $20 million per year.

The deal is solid for the Thunder and can really help their team, especially regarding cap space next season. But, the main takeaway here is that Orlando lost the trade more than Oklahoma City won it. The Magic moved a young piece in Oladipo, who has improved every year, and the 11th pick in the draft for Ibaka, who has regressed each of the past three seasons.

Some organizations just never learn.