The Oklahoma City Thunder dealt Serge Ibaka on draft night, shipping the 6-10 forward to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and Domantas Sabonis, who was taken 11th overall in the draft.
On the surface, the trade may have seemed surprising. Once you delve a little deeper, though, it really wasn’t.
“Serge Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent next season, he’s grumbled about his shots, he’s seen a decline in his production, and I think there was a general feeling within the organization that he’s probably going to leave next year when the Thunder is going to try to pay everyone else,” The Oklahoman Thunder beat writer Anthony Slater said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Durant might be a free agent again if he returns, Westbrook is a free agent, Adams is up for an extension. So there is uncertainty around Ibaka and now there is certainly with Victor Oladipo. They get a really good young two-guard who they can control. He’s a restricted free agent next year but they can match him. They get the 11th pick in the draft, Sabonis, who they really kind of identified and like his future. I think they just really liked the package they got and it allowed them to pull the trigger for Ibaka.”
Ibaka averaged 12.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game last season, while Oladipo, an up-and-coming two-way player, averaged 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals.
Thunder fans are hoping Kevin Durant is a fan of the move.
“I don’t know what Kevin exactly thinks of this trade, but I would tend to think Sam (Presti) at least – I don’t want to say got the okay for the trade, but at least knows (Durant) wouldn’t be too beat up about it,” Slater said. “I think Kevin will probably like it, but if he’s going to go to the Warriors – because that’s the biggest rumor out there – I’m not sure keeping Serge or making this trade for Oladipo changes that.”
Indeed, Durant, who will be the most coveted free agent this offseason, might not even be back in Oklahoma City. Thunder fans are worried – and they should be.
“It’s going to get even worse (the first week of July),” Slater said. “I think he’s (meeting with several teams). So I think people are going to freak out about that but there’s nothing they can really do until Durant decides. I think the smart bet is still him signing the one-year deal back here, but if he does decide to leave, which is a possibility, I’d be interested to see how the fans react to it here.”