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NBA AM: Is It Time To Move Serge Ibaka?

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Not Always What It Sounds Like

One of the things we never try and do in this space is to disparage anyone’s reporting, especially anything surrounding trade rumors because frankly, many of us in the media are talking to vastly different groups of people. That does not mean anyone’s source is better than anyone else’s; it may mean we’ve heard or, more importantly, have been told different things.

Most trade rumors rarely originate from the team looking at making the trade, it’s typically someone no longer involved in a trade discussion or may have been involved but has likely moved on.

The Orlando Magic have been the prime candidate for both scenarios, mainly because they have been as aggressive as almost anyone in trying to find a deal and they have talked with virtually every team in the league at one point trying to find some change to right what’s become a troubling team.

Last week, while the Magic were in Boston, there were reports of trade interest involving Magic big man Nikola Vucevic. Sources close to the situation from both sides indicated that there were some conversations between the two teams, but nothing ever materialized, and the talks were more exploratory in nature, dismissing the idea that anything involving Vucevic heading to the Celtics was actively under consideration.

Sources close to the situation characterized the Magic stance as very exploratory and one of a dozen scenarios the Magic had discussed.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan recently said as much, indicating that the 19-31 Magic were not in a position to not explore everything possible. Simply put, no one on the roster was off-limits if the right trade was possible.

Yesterday, a report from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News characterized the Magic as stepping up efforts to find a trade for forward Serge Ibaka, citing his pending free agency in July as motivation for the Magic to try and extract value from him.

Sources close to the situation mirrored the comments about Vucevic, saying the Magic had explored options and that Ibaka was indeed someone teams had expressed interest in. But, given what Orlando gave up to obtain Ibaka around the 2016 NBA Draft, they were not open to just anything involving Ibaka and felt that any deal involving him would have to improve the team dramatically or return equitable value.

There is a growing sense among NBA Insiders that the Magic must make a trade or two before the February 23 trade deadline to either right the ship or turn it towards the rocks and aim for the 2017 NBA Draft.

The Magic continue to be one of the more inconsistent teams in basketball, which has prompted much of the trade talk. Sources who have talked with Orlando about deals said the same thing many of the reports regarding the Magic are saying, which is that Orlando may be overvaluing what they have on their roster.

There is no questioning that the Magic have been active, but what has come into question is how the Magic’s stance is represented in the media. Orlando is being aggressive and they are not hiding that. In fact, they have gone to great lengths to make sure everyone in the league knows they are not happy with the current construct of the team and are open to a deal or two.

What is in dispute is that the team is any further along or any more motivated to deal than anyone else in the league. As one Magic source put it, the team wants to improve badly, but that does not mean they are ready to do a bad deal.

The trade deadline clock is ticking. Given how much the Magic have worked the league, they are the team to watch over the next 23 days as the 2017 NBA Trade Deadline approaches. But it’s also safe to say that the Magic don’t have anything yet and are not ready to fire sale any of their players either.

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About Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.