The reason why I watch the NBA Draft is to see the trades made on (and the eve of) draft day.
It is always intriguing to see the moves teams make, whether if it’s for moving into better draft positions or to obtain assets that will help this team in the short and long term. By the way, it’s always entertaining to watch teams who make boneheaded moves fall on their faces.
The trade that the Orlando Magic made with the Oklahoma City Thunder last night may eventually fall into the said “boneheaded” category.
The Magic traded for OKC’s Serge Ibaka last night. The Thunder received guard Victor Oladipo, forward Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to power forward Domantas Sabonis, who was taken with the 11th pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night.
On the surface, the Thunder cleared some salary-cap room with Kevin Durant set to become a free agent on July 1 and Russell Westbrook able to hit the open market next offseason. However, I think that the Thunder hoped to strengthen their case to keep Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City.
Let’s examine the incoming personnel in this trade.
In Oladipo, the Thunder add a slashing, attacking guard who is a capable defender and a solid 3-point shooter. Even if Oladipo doesn’t start, he’ll provide a major boost as shooting guard. The Thunder arguably had the weakest starting shooting guards in the NBA last season.
Ilyasova, is a stretch 4 that will improve the Thunder’s frontcourt and add to their perimeter shooting. Plus, he comes in on the cheap.
Sabonis is a 6’10” center who will add to the depth of OKC’s frontcourt. He was a stud in the middle for Gonzaga – and it helps that he is the son of Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis.
So while the Thunder got younger, deeper, and more talented with this move, the Magic had to gut its core and future for just one dude.
Ibaka, while a very good player who is no scrub, is not a franchise player. I mean, who left on Orlando’s roster is going to help Ibaka ball out and win some games? Exactly.
Say hello to another 20-30 win season, Magic fans.
Look, I understand the Ibaka trade may not guarantee the return of Kevin Durant (though I think Durant HAD to know and sign off on this deal). I just think that this trade will set up Thunder in a good place in case Durant bolts.