The NBA Trade Deadline is always a hot topic when the calendar flips but, as we approach February there will be all kinds of NBA Trade Rumors. Some may turn out to be true and others are just that, rumors. When the Orlando Magic acquired Serge Ibaka from the Oklahoma City Thunder this offseason it was a strange move. It helped the Thunder but what was the purpose for the Magic? It crowded their frontcourt and now, at the midway point, the Magic are dangling Ibaka to the highest bidder.
Ibaka is a defensive force in the league and with teams struggling this season on that end there should be no shortage of contenders calling the Magic offices with trade offers.
Here are 5 possible destinations for Serge Ibaka.
The Raptors are in need of a strong defensive presence in the low post. But, where Ibaka differs from a Nerlens Noel type addition will be his added offensive touch around the basket. Ibaka has averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in 30 minutes for the Orlando Magic this season. The Raptors are throwing a lineup that features rookie, Pascal Siakam at the PF position but a dismal average of five points and three rebounds will not be enough to handle the output of Kevin Love, Paul Millsap, or Thaddeus Young. The Raptors need his presence.
Los Angles Lakers
The Lakers are young but the middle of their defense has played like a D-Leaguer instead of a veteran with championship experience. Ibaka has played center during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was successful. His presence for the Lakers will help the young wing players tremendously. Julius Randle will no longer need to slide over and help the cement feet of Timofey Mozgov. Think about a lineup that could include Jordan Clarkson, Randle, D’Angelo Russell, and Ibaka. It doesn’t scream Shaq and Kobe but it will be enough to get the Lakers into the playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers will be the first team on the phone with the Magic trying to get a deal done. As good as their backcourt is with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum there is a need for toughness in the paint. Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh, and Ed Davis are serviceable but, they’re just not cutting it when it comes to protecting Lillard and McCollum. Ibaka will anchor a defense that is worst in the league and also provides the inside scoring that will take double-teams off the perimeter.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the sleeper team here. You may be thinking why would a team with 40 wins already need to make a big trade like this? Defense. The Warriors are weak in the middle with Zaza Pachulia and the addition of Ibaka will make them tougher than they were when Andre Bogut was starting. His relationship with Kevin Durant will be an added bonus and his contract will just be a one-year rental. With the perimeter game of Durant, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson it will open up room for Ibaka and Green in the post to operate and take advantage of the mismatches they will have.
If the Celtics are serious about catching the Cleveland Cavaliers then this is a move that must be made. In the beginning, I was sold on the possibility of Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor but neither of those players brings the intensity and experience that Ibaka will to a lineup that is ONE player away for dethroning LeBron James and crew. The Celtics have played well this season and are only three games behind but the post is where the playoffs will be won or lost. Ask the Warriors what changed when Bogut went out in the Finals against the Cavs. The Celtics are 24th in rebounding and 22nd in blocks. There must be a change.