After weeks of speculation, the Orlando Magic have reportedly traded Serge Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Terrance Ross and a first-round draft pick in this year’s draft.
Orlando acquired Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft night last year in an attempt to help push the team closer to the playoffs. The move was met with some scrutiny as the Magic traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis.
Now, as the NBA approaches the All-Star break and next week’s trade deadline, it’s clear that the experiment with Ibaka didn’t quite pan out as the Magic expected it to. After last night’s win against the Miami HEAT, the Magic sit 14th in the Eastern Conference at 21-36.
Although the Magic are just 5.5 games back of the final playoff spot in the East, it’s evident at this point that it would take a miracle for the Magic to sneak into the postseason. The Magic are a team built to win now, but they have played inconsistently this season and it was clear a trade of some sort was necessary.
Ibaka will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and likely would have commanded a contract the Magic may not have wanted to offer him. Rather than risk losing Ibaka for nothing, the team opted to trade him now to the Raptors.
The Magic get a player in Ross who is in his fifth season in the NBA and could flourish in a bigger role depending on how the Magic utilize him. As a small forward, the Magic could elect to play him at small forward and move Aaron Gordon back to power forward. Ross has two years left on his contract following this season and is set to make $10.5 million in each of those seasons.
In addition to Ross, the Magic also pick up a first-round pick in this year’s draft that is expected to fall in the 20’s. This year’s draft is said to be deep with talent, so the Magic could pick up a promising young player as well.
For the Raptors, acquiring Ibaka figures to give them additional scoring power as they attempt to make a deep playoff run. Ibaka will instantly be able to step in and give them solid production in a position where they’ve needed help all season long.
The Raptors have struggled as of late and appeared to be in need of some additional help near the trade deadline. After winning their fourth game in a row on January 17, they have since posted the fourth-worst record in the league at 4-10.
While Ibaka will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Raptors acquired him with the intention of trying to re-sign him. Toronto was said to be the ideal landing spot for Ibaka, so the Raptors appear to have the edge in re-signing him to a long-term deal.
With this move to acquire Ibaka, the Raptors may be done making moves ahead of the trade deadline.
As for the Magic, this deal could be just the beginning. Players like Jeff Green, C.J. Watson and Nikola Vucevic have all surfaced in trade rumors recently and will be some players to watch as the trade deadline approaches on February 23.
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